The objective of this systematic review was to investigate the effectiveness of conservative interventions for pain, function and range of motion in adults with shoulder impingement.
For pain, exercise was superior to non-exercise control interventions (standardised mean difference (SMD) −0.94, 95% CI −1.69 to −0.19). Specific exercises were superior to generic exercises (SMD −0.65, 95% CI −0.99 to −0.32). Corticosteroid injections were superior to no treatment (SMD −0.65, 95% CI −1.04 to −0.26), and ultrasound guided injections were superior to non-guided injections (SMD −0.51, 95% CI −0.89 to −0.13). Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) had a small to moderate SMD of −0.29 (95% CI −0.53 to −0.05) compared with placebo. Manual therapy was superior to placebo (SMD −0.35, 95% CI −0.69 to −0.01). When combined with exercise, manual therapy was superior to exercise alone, but only at the shortest follow-up (SMD −0.32, 95% CI −0.62 to −0.01). Laser was superior to sham laser (SMD −0.88, 95% CI −1.48 to −0.27). Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ECSWT) was superior to sham (−0.39, 95% CI −0.78 to –0.01) and tape was superior to sham (−0.64, 95% CI −1.16 to −0.12), with small to moderate SMDs.
Although there was only very low quality evidence, exercise should be considered for patients with shoulder impingement symptoms and tape, ECSWT, laser or manual therapy might be added. NSAIDS and corticosteroids are superior to placebo, but it is unclear how these treatments compare to exercise.