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.
Copyright © 2013 Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.