Question: Are there different effects of home exercises and supervised exercises on pain and disability for people with subacromial impingement?
Design: Randomised trial with two treatment arms, concealed allocation, blinded assessment of some outcomes, and intention-to-treat analysis.
Participants: Forty-six patients with subacromial impingement were recruited from an interdisciplinary outpatient clinic of physical medicine and rehabilitation at a university hospital in Norway.
Intervention: The home exercise group had one supervised exercise treatment followed by exercises at home for 6 weeks. The supervised exercise group had up to 10 supervised exercise treatments in addition to home exercises for 6 weeks.
Outcome measures: The primary outcome was the Shoulder Pain and Disability Index (SPADI). Secondary outcome variables were: average pain during the past week, the Fear Avoidance Beliefs Questionnaire, participant satisfaction with treatment, active range of motion, work status and clinical shoulder tests. Pain was assessed weekly and all outcomes were assessed at 6 weeks. Participants were free to seek ongoing treatment of their choice until 26 weeks, when the SPADI was assessed again.
Results: While both groups improved considerably, the groups did not differ significantly on the SPADI after the intervention at 6 weeks (0 points, 95% CI -14 to 14) or when followed up at 26 weeks (-2 points, 95% CI -21 to 17). There were no between-group differences for pain at any time. The remaining outcomes also did not differ significantly, except for the clinical tests of shoulder impingement. In the supervised exercise group, 11 out of 23 participants had two or more positive tests, compared to 18 out of 21 in the home exercise group.
Conclusion: Supervision of more than the first session of a 6-week exercise regimen did not cause significant differences in pain and disability in people with subacromial impingement.
Trial registration: NCT01257113.
Keywords: Exercise therapy; Randomised controlled trial; Rehabilitation; Shoulder; Subacromial impingement syndrome.
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