Acupuncture for symptomatic rotator cuff disease: Protocol for a systematic review and meta-analysis

Medicine (Baltimore). 2020 Jan;99(2):e18716. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000018716.


Background: Rotator cuff disease (RCD) consists of subacromial impingement syndrome, rotator cuff tendinopathy or tendinitis, partial or full rotator cuff tear, calcific tendinitis, and subacromial bursitis. Acupuncture has been suggested as a meaningful nonsurgical intervention for managing shoulder pain and dysfunction. However, previous reviews have not completely addressed the role of acupuncture in the management of RCDs. The objective of this systematic review is to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of acupuncture for managing symptoms in patients with RCD.

Methods: We will search the following databases from their inception to November 30, 2019: MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), Allied and Complementary Medicine (AMED), Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro), 3 Chinese databases (China Academic Journal Full-text Database (CAJ), China Doctoral Dissertations Full-text database and China Masters' Thesis Full-text Database), 6 Korean databases (Korean studies Information Service System (KISS), National Digital Science Library (NDSL), Research Information Sharing Service (RISS), Korean Medical Database (KMBASE), Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information (KISTI), Oriental Medicine Advanced Searching Integrated System (OASIS)), and 3 trial registries (, International Standard Randomized Controlled Trials Number (ISRCTN) Registry, WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP)). We will include randomized controlled trials of acupuncture for RCD. There will be no restrictions related to setting or location. The primary outcome is pain intensity and shoulder dysfunction measured on validated scales within 12 weeks. Quality assessment will be performed using the Cochrane risk of bias tool. Dichotomous outcomes will be presented as risk ratios (RR), and continuous outcomes will be presented as weighted or standardized mean differences (SMD). Each outcome will be calculated with 95% confidence intervals.

Discussion: The updated evidence that would be provided by this review will offer useful information for patients and practitioners, and also have implications for future studies and the development of clinical practice guidelines of RCD.Registration: Open Science Framework (OSF) Preregistration. 2019, December 5.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy / adverse effects
  • Acupuncture Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Muscle Strength
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Research Design
  • Rotator Cuff*
  • Shoulder Impingement Syndrome / therapy*
  • Shoulder Pain / therapy*
  • Tendinopathy / therapy*
  • Work Capacity Evaluation