Diagnosis, prevention and treatment of common shoulder injuries in sport: grading the evidence - a statement paper commissioned by the Danish Society of Sports Physical Therapy (DSSF)

Br J Sports Med. 2023 Apr;57(7):408-416. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2022-105674. Epub 2022 Oct 19.


This statement paper summarises and appraises the evidence on diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of common shoulder injuries in sports. We systematically searched Medline and Embase. The Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation tool was applied to evaluate the overall quality of evidence.For diagnosis, we included 19 clinical tests from mixed populations. Tests for anterior instability, biceps-labrum complex injuries and full subscapularis rupture had high diagnostic accuracy (low to moderate quality of evidence).For prevention, the Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center, the Shoulder Control, the FIFA 11+ shoulder injury prevention programmes, and a baseball-specific programme (range of motion, stretching, dynamic stability and strengthening exercises) showed moderate to large effect size in reducing the risk of shoulder injury compared with no intervention (very low to moderate quality of evidence).For treatment, a rehabilitation programme including stretching, ice packs, electrotherapy and compression, and strengthening exercises showed a large effect size in reducing pain and disability compared with no intervention in athletes with subacromial impingement syndrome (very low to moderate quality of evidence). For the treatment of supraspinatus tendinopathy, hyperthermia treatment (heating the skin to 38°C-40°C) resulted in large effect size in reducing pain and disability compared with ultrasound or pendular swinging and stretching exercises (moderate quality of evidence). Strengthening exercise alone or in combination with stretching exercises promoted a large effect in reducing shoulder pain (cohort studies, no comparators) (very low quality of evidence). The quality of evidence for most estimates was low to moderate, indicating that future high-quality research may alter our recommendations for clinical practice.

Keywords: Athletic Injuries; Exercise; Rehabilitation; Shoulder; Sporting injuries.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Denmark
  • Exercise Therapy / methods
  • Humans
  • Shoulder Injuries* / diagnosis
  • Shoulder Injuries* / prevention & control
  • Shoulder Pain / therapy
  • Sports*