Cervicothoracic manual therapy plus exercise therapy versus exercise therapy alone in the management of individuals with shoulder pain

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Cervicothoracic manual therapy plus exercise therapy versus exercise therapy alone in the management of individuals with shoulder pain
Key Take-Away: 

About 20-33% population suffers from shoulder pain. Given that shoulder pain is difficult to accurately diagnose, it was thus mentioned that there is a need for shift from diagnostic to prognostic research. Many studies have delineated improved outcomes in patients with shoulder pain after manual therapy directed solely at the cervicothoracic spine. These therapies have been depicted in this research.

Cervicothoracic manual therapy has been shown to improve pain and disability in individuals with shoulder pain, but the incremental effects of manual therapy in addition to exercise therapy have not been investigated in a randomized controlled trial.

ABSTRACT: 
Background: 

Cervicothoracic manual therapy has been shown to improve pain and disability in individuals with shoulder pain, but the incremental effects of manual therapy in addition to exercise therapy have not been investigated in a randomized controlled trial.

To compare the effects of cervicothoracic manual therapy and exercise therapy to those of exercise therapy alone in individuals with shoulder pain.

Methods: 

Individuals (n = 140) with shoulder pain were randomly assigned to receive 2 sessions of cervicothoracic range-of-motion exercises plus 6 sessions of exercise therapy, or 2 sessions of high-dose cervicothoracic manual therapy and range-of-motion exercises plus 6 sessions of exercise therapy (manual therapy plus exercise).

Pain and disability were assessed at baseline, 1 week, 4 weeks, and 6 months. The primary aim (treatment group by time) was examined using linear mixed-model analyses and the repeated measure of time for the Shoulder Pain and Disability Index (SPADI), the numeric pain-rating scale, and the shortened version of the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand questionnaire (QuickDASH). Patient-perceived success was assessed and analyzed using the global rating of change (GROC) and the Patient Acceptable Symptom State (PASS), using chi-square tests of independence.

Results: 

There were no significant 2-way interactions of group by time or main effects by group for pain or disability. Both groups improved significantly on the SPADI, numeric pain-rating scale, and QuickDASH.

Secondary outcomes of success on the GROC and PASS significantly favored the manual therapy-plus-exercise group at 4 weeks (P = .03 and P<.01, respectively) and on the GROC at 6 months (P = .04).

Conclusion: 

Adding 2 sessions of high-dose cervicothoracic manual therapy to an exercise program did not improve pain or disability in patients with shoulder pain, but did improve patient-perceived success at 4 weeks and 6 months and acceptability of symptoms at 4 weeks.

More research is needed on the use of cervicothoracic manual therapy for treating shoulder pain.

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2016 Aug;46(8):617-28
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