Background/objective: Rotator cuff tendinopathy is a common cause of shoulder pain. We aimed to compare periarticular (neurofascial) dextrose prolotherapy versus physiotherapy for treatment of chronic rotator cuff tendinopathy in the short term.
Methods: We carried out a randomized clinical trial with 2 arms at a university hospital. In total, 66 patients with chronic rotator cuff tendinopathy, proven by magnetic resonance imaging, were randomly allocated to 2 groups. The outcomes were change in shoulder pain intensity (primary) and disability (secondary) index using a questionnaire for Shoulder Pain and Disability Index. For physiotherapy, participants received superficial heat, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, and pulsed ultrasound. Also, they carried out an exercise program, 10 sessions of 30 minutes for 3 weeks. For prolotherapy, we used 8 mL of 12.5% dextrose and 40 mg of 2% lidocaine. The mixture was injected 2 times with 1-week interval superficially around the shoulder joint and to tender points along the suprascapular nerve.
Results: Neurofascial dextrose was more effective than physiotherapy for alleviating pain in 2 weeks (p < 0.001), and they were similar 3 months after the interventions (p = 0.055). For disability, dextrose was more effective than physiotherapy 2 weeks and 3 months (both p < 0.001) after the interventions. However, the changes in the physiotherapy group seemed to be more sustained.
Conclusions: Both interventions are effective for the short-term management of rotator cuff tendinopathy. However, prolotherapy is more successful as the initial treatment. Besides, the treatment time is much shorter for dextrose prolotherapy compared with physiotherapy.
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