September 17, 2009

Exercise eases chronic shoulder pain

Patients with chronic shoulder pain treated with exercises returned to work sooner than those treated with shockwaves, researchers in Norway said.

The study involved 104 men and women ages 18-70 attending the outpatient clinic at Ullevaal University Hospital in Oslo with shoulder pain lasting at least three months.

The single-blind randomized study, published in the British Medical Journal, found 64 percent of patients in the exercise group achieved a reduction in shoulder pain and disability scores compared with 36 percent in the shockwave treatment group.

Patients were randomized to receive either radial extracorporeal shockwave treatment -- low to medium energy impulses delivered into the tissue for four to six weeks -- or supervised exercises in two 45-minute weekly sessions for up to 12 weeks.

More patients in the exercise group returned to work, while more patients in the shockwave treatment group had additional treatment after 12 weeks, suggesting that they were less satisfied, the researchers said.

Supervised exercises were more effective than radial extracorporeal shockwave treatment for short-term improvement in patients with subacromial shoulder pain, the study authors said in a statement.