Exercises may be as efficient as subacromial decompression in patients with subacromial stage II impingement: 4-8-years' follow-up in a prospective, randomized study

Scand J Rheumatol. 2006 May-Jun;35(3):224-8. doi: 10.1080/03009740600556167.


Objectives: To compare the prognosis of subacromial impingement (SAI) stage II treated conservatively or with subacromial decompression.

Methods: A follow-up study after 4-8 years in a randomized controlled trial (RCT) with 90 adult cases with SAI treated in a Danish hospital from 1996 to 2000 with graded physiotherapy and exercises or arthroscopic subacromial decompression. Outcomes were proportion of time per year with income transfers (indexed 0-1), including total transfers (marginalization), sick leave and disability pension obtained from the registry at the Ministry of Work. Self-reported function, working capability, employment status and global improvement were obtained by questionnaire in September 2004. The main outcomes are given as differences in development from baseline.

Results: Seventy-nine (88%) responded to the questionnaire and registry data were obtained from 81. After 1 year the marginalization index increased by 0.45 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.35-0.56] for surgery and 0.25 (0.16-0.34) for physiotherapy. Cases undergoing surgery also tended to have more sick payments during the first year, but the difference was not significant. Four years after inclusion, changes in indices did not differ between treatment groups. Self-reported outcomes after 4-8 years did not differ between treatment groups.

Conclusion: The results of surgical decompression were equal to those of conservative treatment, and the surgery group had more income transferrals during the first year of follow-up.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Decompression, Surgical / rehabilitation*
  • Employment
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Shoulder Impingement Syndrome / therapy*
  • Sick Leave
  • Treatment Outcome