How many patients with subacromial impingement syndrome recover with physiotherapy? A follow-up study of a supervised exercise programme

Lena Virta; Mona Mortensen; Rikard Eriksson; Margareta Moumlller

This study was designed for patients with the diagnosis subacromial impingement syndrome who were on the waiting list for orthopaedic surgery. They were sent to physiotherapy for training before the operation. The aim of this study was to explore how large the proportion of patients was that did not need surgery when first treated with a supervised exercise programme. The programme emphasizes relearning of normal patterns of movement in arm elevation, reduction of mechanical subacromial stress, specific endurance training to increase nutrition of the collagen tissue and simple advice to prevent recurrence. Ninety-seven patients were included in this follow-up study, selected consecutively at the physiotherapy department. Seventy-two patients completed the training programme; 87% scored excellent or good results and 10 patients were operated on, one of them from the training group. No significant difference was seen in the number of treatments or final results related to age, sex or duration of symptoms. An average of 11 treatments during 8 weeks was required.

The experience of improvement and good results from this study is a strong recommendation that the supervised exercise programme be the first treatment alternative for patients with impingement syndrome.

Advances in Physiotherapy, 2009, 11(3), 166 – 173

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