Background: Rotator cuff related shoulder pain (RCSP) is common with a range of conservative treatments currently offered. Evidence supporting superiority of one approach over another is lacking. Scapula focused approaches (SFA) are frequently prescribed and warrant investigation. Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of SFA in RCSP. Design: Systematic review of randomised controlled trials. Methods: An electronic search including MEDLINE, PEDro, ENFISPO to January 2016 was supplemented by hand searching. Randomised controlled trials were included; appraised using the PEDro scale and synthesised via meta-analysis or narratively, where appropriate. Results: Four studies (n = 190) reported on pain and three studies (n = 122) reported on disability. Regarding pain, there was statistical but not clinically significant benefit of SFA versus generalised approaches (mean difference (VAS) 0.714; 95% CI 0.402-1.026) in the short term (<6 weeks); regarding disability, there was significant benefit of SFA versus generalised approaches (mean difference 14.0; 95% CI 11.2-16.8) in the short term (<6 weeks). One study (n = 22) reported disability at 3 months, which was not statistically significant. Evidence is conflicting from four studies relating to the effect of SFA on scapula position/movement. Conclusion: SFA for RCSP confers benefit over generalised approaches up to six weeks but this benefit is not apparent by 3 months. Early changes in pain are not clinically significant. With regards to scapula position/movement, the evidence is conflicting. These preliminary conclusions should be treated with significant caution due to limitations of the evidence base.
- Rotator cuff
- Systematic review