Glenohumeral and scapulothoracic strength impairments exists in patients with subacromial impingement, but these are not reflected in the shoulder pain and disability index

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BACKGROUND: Pain and loss of function are cardinal symptoms associated with Subacromial impingement syndrome (SIS), while the presence and magnitude of deficits in strength and range of motion (ROM) are largely undescribed in non-athletic patients with SIS. Moreover, the relevance of impairments in strength and ROM to patient-reported shoulder function is not well described, even though testing of strength is recommended in clinical guidelines. The purpose of this study was, first, to investigate impairments in glenohumeral and scapulothoracic strength and in abduction and internal rotation ROM in patients with SIS. Secondly, to investigate the influence of these impairments on patient-reported shoulder function.

METHODS: Cross-sectional study based on a consecutive cohort of 157 patients referred to specialist examination and diagnosed with shoulder impingement (SIS) using predefined validated diagnostic criteria. Prior to specialist examination, questionnaires regarding shoulder function (Shoulder Pain And Disability Index, SPADI) demographics and kinesiophobia (TSK-11) were collected, and shoulder strength and ROM was measured by trained testers, with the patient reporting pain levels during testing and for the last week. Impairments in strength (abduction, external-rotation, (protraction and horizontal-extension) and ROM (abduction and internal rotation) were investigated in patients with unilateral shoulder pain, using one-sample t-tests. SPADI total score (SPADI) and SPADI function score (SPADI-F), were chosen as dependent variables in multiple regressions to investigate the influence of impairments on patient-reported shoulder function. Independent variables of interest were; strength in abduction and external rotation, abduction ROM, pain-during-tests, pain-last-week and kinesiophobia.

RESULTS: Significant impairments were found for all impairment tests, but most pronounced for glenohumeral strength and abduction ROM (29-33% deficits), and less for scapulothoracic strength and internal rotation ROM (8-18% deficits). Pain variables influenced SPADI and SPADI-F score to a high degree (R(2) = 23.4-31.6%, p < 0.001), while strength and ROM did not.

CONCLUSION: Substantial strength and ROM impairments were found in patients with SIS. Only pain significantly influenced patient-reported function, while impairments did not. As SPADI score does not reflect the substantial strength and ROM impairments in external rotation and abduction observed in patients with SIS, supplemental assessment of these impairments seems important.

Original languageEnglish
Article number302
JournalBMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jul 2017

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