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Physical Therapy Less Costly Treatment Option for Shoulder Pain

Physical Therapy for Shoulder PainShoulder pain is a common complaint that can result from an injury, strains, falls, trauma, poor posture, arthritis, repetitive shoulder movements, degenerative conditions and other pathologies within the body. The pain may be temporary or it may continue and require medical diagnosis and treatment. A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that corticosteroid injections (CSI) and manual physical therapy (MPT) both help equally in shoulder pain symptom improvement. However, physical therapy is the less costly treatment option.

As part of the study, researchers combined the treatment for people with shoulder impingement syndrome (SIS) (a type of persistent pain) that often occur due to bursitis, tendonitis or other inflammation in the joint. They analyzed 104 patients in the age group of 18-65 years and they were divided into two groups.

The first group received up to 3 corticosteroid injections of 40 mg triamcinolone acetonide 1 month apart and the second group practiced physical therapy exercises twice a week continuously for 3 weeks. These exercises consisted of manual stretches, joint and soft tissue mobilizations, contract-relax techniques and reinforcing exercises.

After one month, it was found that both the groups had significant improvement in disease symptoms. The patient scores related to aches and disability were reduced by 50% with either of the treatment. However, 60% of the first group of patients receiving steroid injections had more shoulder aches related visits to their primary care provider when compared to just 37% of therapy group. Moreover, the first group patients were also more likely to have additional physical therapy or more injections.

The research which directly compares the effectiveness of 2 common nonsurgical approaches was supported by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Therapists.

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