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Physical Therapy vs. Steroid Shots for Shoulder Pain Treatment

Shoulder Pain TreatmentShoulder pain is an extremely common syndrome and there are many causes that lead to the development of this condition. Making an accurate diagnosis is essential to determine the most appropriate treatment approach for the same. A new study found that physical therapy and steroid injections provide similar results for shoulder pain relief. The study results were published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. Researchers compared these two non–surgical treatment approaches for shoulder pain.

As part of the study, researchers studied 104 patients between the ages of 18 and 65, who were suffering from shoulder pain resulting from rotator cuff problems, tendinitis or bursitis. They were to receive either steroid injections or six sessions of physical therapy over six weeks. During the year of the study, the injection group could have as many as three shots. Physical therapy procedures included stretches, muscle contraction-relaxation techniques and exercises to promote movement in the shoulder, chest or neck, and a combination of joint and soft tissue manipulations. The physical therapy group was also given exercises they could do at home, to support the therapy.

It was found that the improvement in both groups was similar.

However, the researchers found that the adult group that received steroid injections had utilized healthcare services and had undergone additional number of shoulder-related doctor visits during the year. These additional visits indicate that they had consistent shoulder related problems and were seeking further follow-up.

Besides, it was reported that 20% of those who received steroid shots ended up going for physical therapy and more than 40% required more than one injection. More than one in five in the physical therapy group also received an injection during the year of follow-up.

The findings of the study indicate that physical therapy is a great option for those people who prefer to avoid steroid injections.

Even though shoulder pain is a very common complaint, the treatment approaches for different patients cannot be the same. It is essential for physicians to make an accurate diagnosis via diagnostic tests such as X-ray and MRI before initiating a treatment modality.

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