Self-managed loaded exercise versus usual physiotherapy treatment for rotator cuff tendinopathy: a pilot randomised controlled trial

Physiotherapy. 2014 Mar;100(1):54-60. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2013 Aug 15.


Objectives: Rotator cuff tendinopathy is a common source of shoulder pain characterised by persistent and/or recurrent problems for a proportion of sufferers. The aim of this study was to pilot the methods proposed to conduct a substantive study to evaluate the effectiveness of a self-managed loaded exercise programme versus usual physiotherapy treatment for rotator cuff tendinopathy.

Design: A single-centre pragmatic unblinded parallel group pilot randomised controlled trial.

Setting: One private physiotherapy clinic, northern England.

Participants: Twenty-four participants with rotator cuff tendinopathy.

Interventions: The intervention was a programme of self-managed loaded exercise. The control group received usual physiotherapy treatment.

Main outcomes: Baseline assessment comprised the Shoulder Pain and Disability Index (SPADI) and the Short-Form 36, repeated three months post randomisation.

Results: The recruitment target was met and the majority of participants (98%) were willing to be randomised. 100% retention was attained with all participants completing the SPADI at three months. Exercise adherence rates were excellent (90%). The mean change in SPADI score was -23.7 (95% CI -14.4 to -33.3) points for the self-managed exercise group and -19.0 (95% CI -6.0 to -31.9) points for the usual physiotherapy treatment group. The difference in three month SPADI scores was 0.1 (95% CI -16.6 to 16.9) points in favour of the usual physiotherapy treatment group.

Conclusions: In keeping with previous research which indicates the need for further evaluation of self-managed loaded exercise for rotator cuff tendinopathy, these methods and the preliminary evaluation of outcome offer a foundation and stimulus to conduct a substantive study.

Keywords: Exercise; Quality of life; Randomised controlled trial; Rehabilitation; Rotator cuff tendinopathy.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Disability Evaluation
  • England
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Rotator Cuff*
  • Self Care / methods*
  • Shoulder Pain / etiology
  • Shoulder Pain / rehabilitation*
  • Tendinopathy / complications
  • Tendinopathy / rehabilitation*