The effects of scapular stabilization based exercise therapy on pain, posture, flexibility and shoulder mobility in patients with shoulder impingement syndrome: a controlled randomized clinical trial

Med J Islam Repub Iran. 2014 Aug 27;28:87. eCollection 2014.


Background: Dysfunction in the kinetic chain caused by poor scapula stabilization can contribute to shoulder injuries and Shoulder Impingement Syndrome (SIS). The purpose of this study was to compare the effectiveness of two treatment approaches scapular stabilization based exercise therapy and physical therapy in patients with SIS.

Methods: The study is a randomized clinical trial in which 68 patients with SIS were randomly assigned in two groups of exercise therapy (ET) and physical therapy (PT) and received 18 sessions of treatment. Pain, shoulders' range of abduction and external rotation, shoulder protraction, scapular rotation and symmetry as well as postural assessment and Pectoralis minor length were evaluated pre and post intervention. The paired-sample t test and the independent sample t test were applied respectively to determine the differences in each group and between two groups.

Results: Our findings indicated significant differences in abduction and external rotation range, improvement of forward shoulder translation and increase in the flexibility of the involved shoulder between the two groups (respectively ; p=0.024, p=0.001, p<0/0001, p<0/0001). No significant difference was detected in pain reduction between the groups (p=0.576). Protraction of the shoulder (p<0.0001), forward head posture (p<0/0001) and mid thoracic curvature (p<0.0001) revealed a significant improvement in the ET group. Apparent changes occurred in scapular rotation and symmetry in both groups but no significant differences were observed between the two groups (respectively; p=0.183, p=0.578).

Conclusion: The scapular stabilization based exercise intervention was successful in increasing shoulder range, decreasing forward head and shoulder postures and Pectoralis minor flexibility.

Keywords: Exercise Therapy; Physical Therapy; Posture; Shoulder Impingement Syndromes.