Friday, March 18, 2016

"Impingement Syndrome" - a term of historical interest only

Empty can exercise provokes more pain and has undesirable biomechanics compared with the full can exercise.

These authors studied 28 patients with what they referred to as "subacromial impingement syndrome (SAIS)". They compared pain arm elevation exercises in the scapular plane with the humerus in a position of internal rotation (empty can [EC] exercise) or external rotation (full can [FC] exercise).

They found that participants reported greater pain during the EC exercise vs the FC exercise. Scapular muscle activity was generally higher with the EC.

Comment: As has been pointed out previously (see this link), there are no specific diagnostic criteria   for "impingement syndrome". For example, the patients in this study were selected using the following inclusion criteria: "shoulder pain, and 3 of 5 positive findings: painful arc, pain, or weakness with resisted external rotation, Neer, Hawkins, and Jobe tests." No MRI findings are presented so that we cannot know whether each one had cuff tendinosis, partial tear, full thickness tear or some other condition, such a frozen shoulder or glenohumeral arthritis.

The fact that the shoulders were more comfortable with elevation in external rotation (which relies more on the subscapularis) than elevation in internal rotation (which relies more on the supraspinatus) is consistent with the thought that many these patients had some form of supraspinatus pathology that would have been diagnosable on MRI.