Objective: Assess the effectiveness of intramuscular electrical stimulation in reducing hemiplegic shoulder pain at 12 mos posttreatment.
Design: A total of 61 chronic stroke survivors with shoulder pain and subluxation participated in this multiple-center, single-blinded, randomized clinical trial. Treatment subjects received intramuscular electrical stimulation to the supraspinatus, posterior deltoid, middle deltoid, and upper trapezius for 6 hrs/day for 6 wks. Control subjects were treated with a cuff-type sling for 6 wks. Brief Pain Inventory question 12, an 11-point numeric rating scale was administered in a blinded manner at baseline, end of treatment, and at 3, 6, and 12 mos posttreatment. Treatment success was defined as a minimum 2-point reduction in Brief Pain Inventory question 12 at all posttreatment assessments. Secondary measures included pain-related quality of life (Brief Pain Inventory question 23), subluxation, motor impairment, range of motion, spasticity, and activity limitation.
Results: The electrical stimulation group exhibited a significantly higher success rate than controls (63% vs. 21%, P = 0.001). Repeated-measure analysis of variance revealed significant treatment effects on posttreatment Brief Pain Inventory question 12 (F = 21.2, P < 0.001) and Brief Pain Inventory question 23 (F = 8.3, P < 0.001). Treatment effects on other secondary measures were not significant.
Conclusions: Intramuscular electrical stimulation reduces hemiplegic shoulder pain, and the effect is maintained for > or =12 mos posttreatment.