Objective: Synthesize evidence regarding effectiveness of progressive and resisted or non-progressive and non-resisted exercise compared with placebo or no treatment, in rotator cuff related pain.
Data sources: English articles, searched in Cochrane CENTRAL, MEDLINE, EMBASE and CINAHL databases up until May 19, 2020.
Methods: Randomized controlled trials in people with rotator cuff related pain comparing either progressive and resisted exercise or non-progressive and non-resisted exercise, with placebo or no treatment were included. Data extracted independently by two authors. Risk of bias appraised with the Cochrane Collaboration tool.
Results: Seven trials (468 participants) were included, four trials (271 participants) included progressive and resisted exercise and three trials (197 participants) included non-progressive or non-resisted exercise. There was uncertain clinical benefit for composite pain and function (15 point difference, 95% CI 9 to 21, 100-point scale) and pain outcomes at >6 weeks to 6 months with progressive and resisted exercise compared to placebo or no treatment (comparison 1). For non-progressive or non-resisted exercise there was no significant benefit for composite pain and function (4 point difference, 95% CI -2 to 9, 100-point scale) and pain outcomes at >6 weeks to 6 months compared to placebo or no treatment (comparison 2). Adverse events were seldom reported and mild.
Conclusions: There is uncertain clinical benefit for all outcomes with progressive and resisted exercise and no significant benefit with non-progressive and non-resisted exercise, versus no treatment or placebo at >6 weeks to 6 months. Findings are low certainty and should be interpreted with caution.
Keywords: Rotator cuff related pain; progressive exercise; resistance exercise; resistance training; rotator cuff tendinopathy; shoulder pain; sub-acromial impingement.