Some of our Elf friends who are regular swimmers have been suffering from sore shoulders. One of them has been diagnosed as having subacromial impingement syndrome (SIS). This term involves different structures in the shoulder such as the rotator cuff, tendonitis and bursitis of the shoulder.
Treatment of SIS can include surgery but our friend is wondering what the effectiveness of non-surgical treatment is. So we searched the literature and found a review that explored effectiveness of physiotherapy and manual therapy.
Here’s what they did
The authors searched the Cochrane Library, PubMed, EMBASE, PEDro and CINAHL for relevant systematic reviews and randomised clinical trials (RCTs) up to March 209. There were no language restrictions.
The studies were to include only those where SIS was not caused by an acute trauma or any systemic disease and results on pain, function or recovery were reported at a follow-up period of ≥2 weeks.
Two reviewers independently extracted data and assessed the methodological quality of each RCT using Furlan’s 12 criteria. A best-evidence synthesis was used to summarise the results. The article was included in the best-evidence synthesis only if a comparison was made between the groups and the level of significance was reported.
Here’s what they found
- Two reviews and 10 RCTs (5 high quality) reporting on pain, function or recovery were included.
- One RCT studied manual therapy as an add-on therapy to self-training.
- All other studies studied the effect of physiotherapy: effectiveness of exercise therapy, mobilisation as an add-on therapy to exercises, ultrasound, laser and pulsed electromagnetic field.
- Hyperthermia (heat) compared to exercise therapy or ultrasound: moderate evidence was found for the effectiveness of hyperthermia in the short term, no midterm or long-term results were studied.
- Hyperthermia (heat) and exercise therapy were more effective in comparison to controls or placebo in the short term (moderate evidence).
- Exercise therapy gave the best results (moderate evidence) in the midterm compared to placebo or controls.
- Other interventions, conflicting, limited or no evidence was found.
The authors concluded
Some physiotherapeutic treatments seem to be promising (moderate evidence) to treat SIS, but more research is needed before firm conclusions can be drawn.
The Musculoskeletal Elf’s view
This review considered the effectiveness of physiotherapy and manual therapy on pain, function or recovery. The interventions included in this review were varied and included; pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF), laser, accupuncture, ultrasound, ultrasound plus ionthophoresis, corticosteriod injections, mobilisation as an add-on therapy to exercise, manual therapy as an add-on therapy to self-training, workplace-based hardening, clinical-based hardening, exercise, physiotherapy, and shoulder braces.
The authors found difficulty comparing these interventions and thus pooling of data and meta-analyis was not possible and they had to report a best evidence synthesis.
What do you think?
- Do you use any of these interventions to treat subacromial impingement syndrome?
- Do you have a standard protocol? If so would you like to share it with us?
- How do you measure effectiveness of your interventions?