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Effectiveness of scapula-focused approaches in patients with rotator cuff related shoulder pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Bury, J., West, M., Chamorro-Moriana, G. and Littlewood, C., 2016.

Setting the scene:

Systematic review of randomised controlled trials to evaluate the effectiveness of SFA in RCSP.

What did they do?

An electronic search including MEDLINE, PEDro, ENFISPO to January 2016 was supplemented by hand searching. Randomized controlled trials were included; appraised using the Pedro scale and synthesized via meta-analysis or narratively, where appropriate. 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 generalized approaches mean difference (VAS) in the short term (< 6 weeks); regarding disability, there was significant benefit of SFA versus generalized approaches 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.

Takeaway message:

SFA for RCSP confers benefit over generalized 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.

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