The Strengthening Exercises in Shoulder Impingement trial (The SExSI-trial) investigating the effectiveness of a simple add-on shoulder strengthening exercise programme in patients with long-lasting subacromial impingement syndrome: Study protocol for a pragmatic, assessor blinded, parallel-group, randomised, controlled trial

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BACKGROUND: Subacromial impingement syndrome (SIS) is a painful, and often long lasting, shoulder condition affecting patient function and quality of life. In a recent study, we observed major strength impairments in shoulder external rotation and abduction (~30%) in a population of patients with pronounced and long-lasting SIS. However, the current rehabilitation of such strength impairments may be inadequate, with novel rehabilitation programmes including exercise therapy only improving external rotation strength by 4-13%. As these previous studies are the basis of current practice, this suggests that the strengthening component could be inadequate in the rehabilitation of these patients, and it seems likely that more emphasis should be placed on intensifying this part of the rehabilitation. The purpose of this study is to investigate the effectiveness of a programme consisting of progressive home-based resistance training using an elastic band, aimed at improving shoulder external rotation and abduction strength, added to usual care and initiated shortly after diagnosis has been established.

METHODS: A pragmatic randomised controlled superiority trial will be conducted, including 200 patients with pronounced and long-lasting SIS, diagnosed using predefined criteria. Participants will be randomised to receive either an add-on intervention of progressive home-based resistance training using an elastic band in addition to usual care or usual care alone in a 1:1 allocation ratio. The randomisation sequence is computer generated, with permuted blocks of random sizes. The primary outcome will be change in Shoulder Pain And Disability Index (SPADI) score from baseline to 16 weeks follow-up. Outcome assessors are blinded to group allocation. Intervention receivers will be kept blind to treatment allocation through minimal information about the content of the add-on intervention and control condition until group allocation is final. Analyses are performed by blinded data analysts.

DISCUSSION: If effective, the simple shoulder strengthening exercise programme investigated in this trial could easily be added to usual care. The usefulness of the trial is further supported by the magnitude of the problem, the information gained from the study and the pragmatism, patient centeredness and transparency of the trial.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: The trial is pre-registered at with the ID NCT02747251 on April 19, 2016.

Original languageEnglish
Article number154
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2018

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