Shoulder Impingement: Steroid Shots and PT Equally Effective

People with shoulder impingement syndrome (SIS) randomly assigned to six sessions of physical therapy (PT) experienced the same 50% improvement in average pain and disability scores as a similar group that received up to three corticosteroid injections over the course of a year. However, the injection group made more office visits and had more additional procedures during the 12-month follow-up period.

Editorialists commenting on this Annals of Internal Medicine study hypothesize that the lower resource utilization of the PT group may be attributed to patient-clinician interactions that “provide an opportunity for therapists to better address patients’ concerns about their conditions, provide reassurance, or educate patients in self-management.” They go on to say that if further research pinpoints specific inflammatory and non-inflammatory “diagnostic phenotypes” of SIS patients, clinicians could prescribe more targeted therapies.

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