Effects of adding scapular stabilization exercises to a periscapular strengthening exercise program in patients with subacromial pain syndrome: a randomized controlled trial

Review written by Dr Jarod Hall info

Key Points

  1. Scapular focused exercises that place emphasis on the movement and position of the scapulae are a commonly employed treatment approach utilized by musculoskeletal rehab clinicians.
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BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE

Subacromial pain syndrome (SAPS) is a common shoulder condition often characterized by rotator cuff muscle weakness and pain reported from, or worsened by, repetitive overhead activities. Physical impairments that have been associated with SAPS include altered scapula and clavicle kinematics, glenohumeral stiffness/instability, neuromuscular weakness associated with atrophy, disuse/deconditioning, and poor motor control or neural activation (1-3).

Currently, strong evidence supports an exercise-based approach to alleviate pain and improve function for patients with SAPS. Over the last decade, scapular clinical assessment and scapular focused treatment have become widely used for the rehabilitation process of a painful shoulder (4). However, to date, only two studies have tested the benefits of adding scapular stabilization exercises to an exercise-based intervention in patients with SAPS, and these studies demonstrated conflicting results (5,6).

Therefore, the objective of this study was to determine the effect of adding scapular stabilization exercises (emphasizing retraction and depression of the scapula) to a progressive periscapular strengthening protocol on disability, pain, muscle strength, and ROM in patients with SAPS.

Strong evidence supports an exercise-based approach to alleviate pain and improve function for patients with subacromial pain syndrome.
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These findings call into question the common clinical focus on assessing scapular position/movement during upper extremity motions.

METHODS

This study was a randomized controlled trial (RCT) with a two-arm parallel design. Allocation was concealed and both assessors and patients were blinded. Individuals (113 total) with SAPS were recruited from March 2016 through June 2017; all of them were

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