The most frequently suggested treatment for multidirectional instability (MDI) of the glenohumeral joint is exercise-based management. The primary objective of this review was to evaluate the effectiveness of exercise-based management in patients with MDI. The secondary aim was to observe the types of exercise protocols and outcomes used, as well as any adverse results associated with exercise. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Medline, Embase, CINAHL (Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature), PEDro, Current Contents, Allied and Complementary Medicine (AMED), Australasian Medical Index (AMI), Ausport, and Clinical Trials Registers were searched for published and unpublished studies from the inception date to June 2012 using the keywords multidirectional instability, glenohumeral, and exercise. Selection criteria included all study designs (except case reports and case series) and participants with clinically diagnosed MDI using exercise-based management. Inclusion criteria were not limited by outcomes. The authors’ own risk-of-bias tool was used for quality assessment of studies. The GRADE approach (Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation) was used to synthesize the evidence. The risk of bias was high in all 7 included studies. For before-and-after comparisons of exercise-based management, GRADE assessment displayed very low-quality evidence for improvements in shoulder kinematics, the Rowe score, overall status rating, and peak muscle strength.
The review found the effect of exercise-based management on MDI to be variable across the included studies because of study heterogeneity and a high level of bias. There is a need for high-quality intervention studies to be conducted to validate the effect of exercise for MDI.