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Ultrasound Similar to Placebo for Treating Shoulder Pain

Placebo ultrasound yields 13-point pain score drop in six weeks, ultrasound yields 17-point drop

WEDNESDAY, May 16 (HealthDay News) -- Ultrasound coupled with manual therapy does not appear to reduce shoulder pain significantly more than placebo ultrasound and manual therapy, researchers report in the May issue of Rheumatology.

Roberta Ainsworth, of Torbay Hospital in Torquay, U.K., and colleagues compared outcomes reported via Shoulder Disability Questionnaires at various intervals by 113 shoulder pain patients treated with manual therapy plus ultrasound, versus 108 patients treated with manual therapy and placebo ultrasound in nine Birmingham physiotherapy departments.

The patients' mean age was 56. More than three-quarters of them (76 percent) were followed up at six weeks; 71 percent were followed up at six months.

After six weeks, ultrasound patients' Shoulder Disability Questionnaire scores dropped a mean of 17 points; placebo ultrasound patients' scores fell 13 points. The researchers detected no statistically significant differences between the two groups at any of the set time benchmarks.

"The addition of ultrasound was not superior to placebo ultrasound when used as part of a package of physiotherapy in the short-term management of shoulder pain," the authors write. "This has important implications for physiotherapy practice."

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