Shoulder pain is a common orthopedic condition seen by physical therapists, with many potential contributing factors and proposed treatments. Although manual physical therapy interventions for the cervicothoracic spine and ribs have been investigated for this patient population, the specific effects of these treatments have not been reported. The purpose of this investigational study is to report the immediate effects of thoracic spine and rib manipulation in patients with primary complaints of shoulder pain. Using a test-retest design, 21 subjects with shoulder pain were treated during a single treatment session with high-velocity thrust manipulation to the thoracic spine or upper ribs. Post-treatment effects demonstrated a 51% (32mm) reduction in shoulder pain, a corresponding increase in shoulder range of motion (30 degrees -38 degrees ), and a mean patient-perceived global rating of change of 4.2 (median 5). These immediate post-treatment results suggest that thoracic and rib manipulative therapy is associated with improved shoulder pain and motion in patients with shoulder pain, and further these interventions support the concept of a regional interdependence between the thoracic spine, upper ribs, and shoulder.
Keywords: Manipulation; Manual Therapy; Shoulder Pain; Thoracic Spine.