Specific versus general exercise programme in adults with subacromial impingement syndrome: a randomised controlled trial

Héctor Gutiérrez Espinoza, Felipe Araya-Quintanilla, Sebastian Pinto-Concha, Juan Valenzuela-Fuenzalida, José Francisco López-Gil, Robinson Ramírez-Velez

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives Current evidence on the clinical effectiveness about the different types of exercises in the subacromial impingement syndrome (SIS) remains controversial. This study aims to compare the short-term (at 5 weeks) effects of a specific exercise programme with a general exercise programme on shoulder function in adults with SIS. Methods In total, 52 adults with SIS were randomly allocated to 5 weeks to perform specific exercises (experimental group, n=26) or general exercises (control group, n=26). The primary outcome was change in shoulder function, it was assessed using the Shoulder Pain and Disability Index (SPADI) from baseline to 5 weeks. Secondary end points included changes in upper limb function (Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand (DASH) Questionnaire), pain intensity (Visual Analog Scale (VAS)) and kinesiophobia (Tampa Scale of Kinesiophobia (TSK)). Results All participants completed the trial. The between-group differences at 5 weeks were: SPADI, 13.5 points (95% CI: 4.3 to 15.6; ƞ2=0.22; p=0.001); DASH, 10.1 points (95% CI: 5.6 to 15.2; ƞ2=0.27; p<0.001); VAS at rest, 0.2 cm (95% CI: 0.1 to 0.3; ƞ2=0.07; p=0.553); VAS on movement, 1.7 cm (95% CI: 0.9 to 2.2; ƞ2=0.24; p<0.001); and TSK, 16.3 points (95% CI: 13.2 to 15.3; ƞ2=0.33; p<0.001). All differences favoured the experimental group and effect sizes were medium to large for most outcomes. Mediation analyses showed that the effect of the specific exercises on shoulder function was mediated by kinesiophobia (β=2.800; 95% CI: 1.063 to 4.907) and pain on movement (β= −0.690; 95% CI: −1.176 to −0.271). Conclusion In adults with SIS, specific exercises may have a larger effect than general exercises. However, most differences did not reach the minimum threshold to be considered clinically important and the evidence to support exercise as standard treatment warrant further study.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere001646
JournalBMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 27 Sept 2023
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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