Screening of the cervical spine in subacromial shoulder pain: a systematic review

Review written by Dr Xiaoqi Chen info

Key Points

  1. The relationship between subacromial shoulder pain and its involvement with the cervical spine is unknown.
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BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE

Subacromial shoulder pain (SASP) is a common diagnosis amongst those who present with shoulder pain, but knowledge regarding its relationship with the cervical spine is scant. The cervical spine is a potential source of shoulder pain in the subacromial region from a neuroanatomical perspective, and a specific diagnosis such as cervical radiculopathy may sometimes be implicated (1,2). However, a proportion of patients with SASP do not have a clear cervical radiculopathy diagnosis but still demonstrate signs of cervical spine involvement clinically (3-5). Hence, the objective of this systematic review was to explore the screening strategies for cervical disorders utilized in randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of patients with SASP.

The cervical spine is a potential source of shoulder pain in the subacromial region from a neuroanatomical perspective.
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The lack thereof, and variability of the screening approaches adopted may be reflective of the lack of consensus in the clinical environment on cervical spine screening in subacromial shoulder pain.

METHODS

The authors conducted electronic searches in the PEDro and MEDLINE databases from 2000 to 2016 using keywords such as “shoulder impingement”, “rehabilitation” and “randomized controlled” in MEDLINE, and “shoulder”, and “clinical trial” in PEDro. Studies which met the inclusion criteria

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