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Physical Therapy as Effective as Corticosteroid Injections for Relieving Shoulder Pain, Disability

Manual physical therapy, by trained physical therapists, and subacromial corticosteroid injections provided equal and notable improvement in pain and function among people with unilateral shoulder impingement syndrome. Unilateral shoulder impingement syndrome includes several painful conditions related to the shoulder, such as rotator cuff syndrome, rotator cuff tendonitis and bursitis.

In a study published August 4, 2014 in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers assigned 104 patients, ages 18 to 65 with unilateral shoulder impingement syndrome, to receive either one to three corticosteroid injections in a one-year period or six manual physical therapy sessions. The physical therapy sessions included joint and soft-tissue mobilizations, manual stretches, contract-relax techniques and exercise instruction and reinforcement. Manual physical therapy patients completed the six sessions during a 3-week period and were prescribed specific home exercises.

Patients in both groups reported pain and disability at one month, three months, six months and a year.

While patients in both groups experienced notable improvement in shoulder pain and function, the physical therapy group’s approach was more cost-efficient, using less shoulder-related health care resources than the injection group. For example, physical therapy patients required fewer primary care doctor visits than did the corticosteroid injection patients. Patients in both groups felt better within the first month of treatment.

Physical therapists who are trained in manual therapy techniques can use this approach to treat all kinds of pain, including ankle, knee, hip, back, shoulder and neck pain and injuries. For more information about how a physical therapist-led manual therapy intervention can help you, contact A Physical Therapist, Inc.

A Physical Therapist, Inc., is a one-on-one physical therapy clinic in Delray Beach, Fla., and Harrisburg, Penn. For patients in Palm Beach County, A Physical Therapist, Inc., is easily accessible from Boca Raton or Boynton Beach. For patients in Dauphin County, A Physical Therapist, Inc., is easily accessible from Hershey and Marysville.

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