The effectiveness of manual therapy in the management of musculoskeletal disorders of the shoulder: a systematic review

Man Ther. 2009 Oct;14(5):463-74. doi: 10.1016/j.math.2009.03.008. Epub 2009 May 21.


A systematic review of randomised controlled trials (RCTs) was conducted to determine the effectiveness of manual therapy (MT) techniques for the management of musculoskeletal disorders of the shoulder. Seven electronic databases were searched up to January 2007, and reference lists of retrieved articles and relevant MT journals were screened. Fourteen RCTs met the inclusion criteria and their methodological qualities were assessed using the PEDro scale. Results were analyzed within diagnostic subgroups (adhesive capsulitis (AC), shoulder impingement syndrome [SIS], non-specific shoulder pain/dysfunction) and a qualitative analysis using levels of evidence to define treatment effectiveness was applied. For SIS, there was no clear evidence to suggest additional benefits of MT to other interventions. MT was not shown to be more effective than other conservative interventions for AC, however, massage and Mobilizations-with-Movement may be useful in comparison to no treatment for short-term outcomes for shoulder dysfunction.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / complications
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / rehabilitation*
  • Musculoskeletal Manipulations / methods*
  • Neck Pain / rehabilitation*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic*
  • Shoulder
  • Shoulder Impingement Syndrome / rehabilitation
  • Shoulder Pain / etiology
  • Shoulder Pain / rehabilitation*
  • Treatment Outcome