Does the acromiohumeral distance matter in chronic rotator cuff related shoulder pain?

The relation between acromiohumeral distance (AHD) and severity of pain, disability and range of movement (ROM) in patients with chronic rotator cuff related shoulder pain (RCRSP) has not been reported. The aim of this study was to investigate the level of association between AHD measured by ultrasonography and pain-disability and shoulder range of movement (ROM), in patients suffering from chronic RCRSP. As a secondary objective, the determination of the intrarater reliability of AHD at both 0 and 60 degrees of shoulder elevation was carried out.

A sample comprised of 97 patients with chronic RCSRP symptoms was recruited from three different primary care centres. Acromio-humeral distance (AHD) measured by ultrasonography at 0 and 60 degrees of shoulder elevation, shoulder pain-function (SPADI) and range of movement (ROM) were taken. There was no correlation between AHD at 0° (-0,215), and at 60° (-0,148), with SPADI. No correlations were found with AHD and shoulder ROM at both 0 and 60°. Intrarater reliability was excellent for AHD at 0 and 60°.

There was a small association between AHD and shoulder pain and function, as well as with shoulder ROM, in patients with chronic RCRSP. Hence, clinicians should consider other possibilities rather than focusing their therapies only in increasing AHD when patients with chronic RCRSP are treated.