Bone and Joint Institute

Conservative versus surgical interventions for shoulder impingement: An overview of systematic reviews of randomized controlled trials

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Physiotherapy Canada





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© 2020, University of Toronto Press Inc. All rights reserved. Purpose: Numerous systematic reviews (SRs) of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have emerged that investigate the effectiveness of conservative (super-vised exercises) versus surgical (arthroscopic subacromial decompression) interventions for patients with shoulder impingement; however, there are dispa-rities in the quality of the evidence synthesized. The purpose of this study was to conduct an overview of SRs of RCTs to critically appraise the evidence and establish the current state of effectiveness of conservative versus surgical interventions on clinical outcomes among patients with shoulder impinge-ment. Method: The MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, and PubMed electronic databases were searched for January 2008 to September 2018, and we found SRs of RCTs of patients with shoulder impingement, subacromial pain syndrome, or subacromial impingement syndrome who had received conservative versus surgical interventions to improve outcomes. Two authors extracted the data, and two independent review authors assessed the risk of bias and qual-ity. Results: A total of 15 SRs were identified. One was rated as high quality, 7 as moderate quality, 5 as low quality, and 2 as critically low quality. The results were in line with one another, indicating that no differences in outcomes existed between conservative and surgical interventions among patients with shoulder impingement. Conclusion: There were no clinically important or statistically significant differences in outcomes between conservative versus surgical interventions among patients with subacromial impingement syndrome. To enhance clinical outcomes in this patient population, shoulder-specific exercises that aim to improve muscle strength and flexibility must be considered as the first line of conservative treatment.

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