Shoulder impingement is a common cause of shoulder pain that responds well to active, therapeutic exercise. A more passive “shockwave treatment” has recently been used to treat impingement. This passive modality was compared with an active exercise treatment in shoulder impingement patients in Norway. The study published in the British Medical Journal compared 12 weeks of physiotherapy and home exercise using elastic tubing with 4 to 6 treatments of Radial Extracorporeal Shockwave Treatment (REST).

64% of the exercise patients and only 36% of the shockwave treatment patients had significant improvement in pain and disability, and more patients in the exercise group returned to work. Interestingly however, there were no significant differences between groups in function or range of motion.

This study is consistent with the findings of other studies that show elastic resistance exercises are effective as part of an active care approach to shoulder impingement that includes both clinic- and home-based exercises. Thera-Band® elastic resistance and patient kits are ideal to facilitate both clinical and home exercise programs.

Engebretsen K, et al. Radial extracorporeal shockwave treatment compared with supervised exercises in patients with subacromial pain syndrome: single blind randomised study. BMJ. 2009;339:b3360.

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