Painful stiffening of the shoulder, 'frozen shoulder' is a common cause of shoulder pain and disability. Continuous passive motion (CPM) is an established method of preventing joint stiffness and of overcoming it. A randomized, comparative prospective clinical trial was planned to compare the early response with different rehabilitation methods [CPM vs. conventional physiotherapy treatment (CPT) protocol] for adhesive capsulitis taking into consideration the clinical efficacy. A total of 57 patients with frozen shoulder were included in this study. Patients were assigned randomly to receive daily CPM treatments or CPT protocol. Parameters were measured at baseline, and at weeks 4 and 12. All patients were evaluated with respect to pain (visual anologue scale) at rest, pain at movement, pain at night, measurement of range of motion (shoulder flexion, abduction, internal-external rotation were assessed), constant functional shoulder score and the shoulder pain and disability index. The first group (n=29) (CPM group) received CPM treatments for 1 h once a day for 20 days during a period of 4 weeks. The second group (n=28) (CPT group) had a daily physiotherapy treatment protocol including active stretching and pendulum exercises for 1 h once a day for 20 days during a period of 4 weeks. All patients in both groups were also instructed in a standardized home exercise programme consisting of passive range of motion and pendulum exercises to be performed every day. In both groups, statistically significant improvements were detected in all outcome measures compared with baseline. Pain reduction, however, evaluated with respect to pain at rest, at movement and at night was better in CPM group. In addition the CPM group showed better shoulder pain index scores than the CPT group. CPM treatment provides better response in pain reduction than the conventional physiotherapy treatment protocol in the early phase of treatment in adhesive capsulitis.