Cortisone vs Physiotherapy vs Both For Shoulder Pain/Impingement.

Shoulder exercises

Corticosteroid injection and physiotherapy are common treatments for shoulder pain, especially shoulder impingement and shoulder bursitis. Recent study even found that only half of patients experiencing shoulder pain completely recover after six months.

That is a long time to live with and suffer from shoulder pain!

There is recent evidence comparing these two treatments for pain, range of movement and shoulder function in patients diagnosed with subacromial impingement syndrome. Here are some findings:

  • Physiotherapy treatment included strengthening exercises, stretching, soft tissue techniques and patient education. Treatment ranged from once a week to couple of times a week for 6 to 12 weeks.
  • Corticosteroid was not superior for range of movement or pain at any time period, including 4 weeks, 12 weeks, and 48 weeks.
  • The evidence showed that corticosteroid was superior to physiotherapy for shoulder function at 6-7 weeks. It was not superior for function at longer time periods.

With these findings as clinicians, we need to weigh the short-term benefit of corticosteroid vs the risks of its side effects, such as immune system compromise and cartilage damage. The combination of exercise, physiotherapy treatment and corticosteroid may be beneficial to some patients that have stubborn shoulder pain not resolving with physiotherapy management alone. This may be true for people who are still training in the gym, continuing at work and not effectively able to modify activity to reduce the symptoms.

If you are suffering from shoulder pain, book a consultation with our clinicians to discuss the options available for complete recovery.

TPC Team

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