Exercise, Shockwave Therapy Compared for Shoulder Pain

Supervised exercise demonstrates benefits for pain, reduced disability and faster return to work

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 16 (HealthDay News) -- For patients with subacromial shoulder pain, supervised exercise improves shoulder mobility and lessens pain better than extracorporeal shockwave treatment, according to a study published online Sept. 15 in BMJ.

Kaia Engebretsen, P.T., of Ullevaal University Hospital in Oslo, Norway, and colleagues conducted a randomized study in which 104 patients with shoulder pain persisting at least three months received either supervised exercises consisting of two 45-minute sessions weekly for up to 12 weeks or the shockwave treatment. Shoulder pain and disability at baseline, six, 12, and 18 weeks were assessed and compared for the two groups.

The researchers found that 32 of 50 patients (64 percent) in the supervised exercise group and 18 of 50 (36 percent) in the radial extracorporeal shockwave group achieved a reduction in shoulder pain and disability index scores. Also, more patients in the exercise group were back at work at 12 and 18 weeks than in the shockwave group (64 versus 54 percent and 76 versus 52 percent, respectively).

"We found a small but statistically significant difference in favor of supervised exercises over radial extracorporeal shockwave treatment for the primary outcome (shoulder pain and disability index) at six, 12, and 18 weeks in patients with subacromial shoulder pain," the authors conclude.

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