Newsletter excerpts: shoulder and rotator cuff--Nov 2018

Michelle Burns
November 14, 2018

Here is some of the information I recently shared in my November newsletter. Each newsletter has a specific focus.  This month is focused on shoulder and rotator cuff information. If you would be interested in receiving my newsletters, please head over to my contact page and sign up.


I receive a weekly update on anything published anywhere on the internet that includes information about shoulders.  I try to glean the best of the information and provide a brief synopsis of the information. If you come across any information that you think would be good to share, please also feel free to pass that information along to:

1. A doctoral thesis titled “Is dry cupping as effective as a traditional exercise program in reducing shoulder pain in competitive swimmers”, published on the University of New Mexico digital repository, suggests: Studies have shown that cupping may be able to decrease pain by an average of 20mm of the Visual Analog Scale. This suggests that in the painful shoulder it may be used as an adjunct to exercise therapy but should not replace it as cupping does not address the underlying impairments that swimming induces not he shoulder. 

2. A study titled “The prevalence of myofascial trigger points in neck and shoulder-related disorders: a systematic review of the literature" published in BMC Musculoskelet Disord in Jul 2018, concludes: Limited evidence supporting the high prevalence of active and latent MTrPs in patients with neck or shoulder disorders. Point prevalence estimates of MTrPs were based on a small number of studies with very low sample sizes and with design limitations that increased risk of bias within included studies.

3. A study, titled “Electrical stimulation in the treatment of hemiplegic shoulder pain: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials”, published in American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation in Oct 2018, concludes: ES may be an effective pain management methodology for hemiplegic shoulders and may contribute to pain-free range of external rotation as well as ADL recovery. However, these results should be interpreted with caution, given the low number of selected studies and risk of potential bias.

4. A study titled ”Effects of age and sex on shoulder biomechanics and relative effort during functional tasks” published in Journal of Biomechanics in Nov 2018, concludes: Older compared to younger adults had >40% lower isokinetic shoulder abduction strength. The ratio of peak joint torque during six ADLs over the maximal isokinetic torque, i.e., relative effort, was higher in old (approx 52%) compared with young adults (approx. 22%, p<0.05). Relative effort in older adults was over 40% in overhead activities and particularly high in abduction and reaching tasks, over 60%. Healthy older compared with younger adults perform most ADL tasks involving the shoulder joint with nearly twice the level of relative effort. The concomitant reductions in maximal shoulder isokinetic torque and increases in relative effort may be related to the high prevalence of musculoskeletal pain and shoulder dysfunction in old age report in epidemiological studies. 

5. A study, titled “Influence of thoracic posture on scapulothoracic and glenohumeral motions during eccentric shoulder external rotation” published in Gait & Posture, concludes: 

  • Thoracic extension increased scapular posterior tilting and external rotation
  • Thoracic extension reduced glenohumeral horizontal extension
  • Thoracic posture had no effect on upward rotation of the scapula
  • Thoracic extension increased the maximum shoulder external rotation.

6. A study, titled “A randomized controlled trial of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the management of rotator cuff related shoulder pain” published in the BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine concludes: Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids supplementation may have a modest effect on disability and pain outcomes in Rotator cuff related shoulder pain.

7. A study titled “Does altering sitting posture have a direct effect on clinical shoulder tests in individuals with shoulder pain and rotator cuff degenerative tears?” published in Physical Therapy Oct 2018 concludes: Changing posture while sitting did not directly affect pain provocation and pain levels during performance of three clinical shoulder tests (Neer, Hawkins-Kennedy, empty can) in subjects with shoulder pain and Rotator cuff degenerative tears. 

8. A study titled “Increased risk of adhesive capsulitis among patients with gout: A nationwide population-based matched-cohort study” published in the International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases in Oct 2018 concludes: gout is an independent risk factor for developing Adhesive capsulitis.

9. A study titled “Diagnostic accuracy of the scapular retraction test in assessing the status of the rotator cuff” published in Orthopedic J Sport Med in Oct 2018 concludes: the SRT can accurately be used to clinically assess the status of the rotator cuff. This physical examination maneuver was found to be accurate, sensitive, and specific in diagnosing full-thickness RCTs. Additionally, our results indicate that it is equally as accurate to predict an intact rotator cuff tendon.

10. A study titled “Immediate effects of soft tissue massage on posterior shoulder muscle tightness: a preliminary study” published in Physical Therapy Kor concluded:  Sort tissue massage on posterior shoulder muscle tightness is an effective method to increase acromiohumeral distance and range of motion in the horizontal adduction and internal rotation of the glenohumeral joint.


2.  Miscellaneous

According to an article published in Europe PMC, titled Rotator Cuff Syndrome by Varacallo M and Mair SD, “The rotator cuff (RC) is an anatomic coalescence of the muscle bellies and tendons of the supraspinatus (SS), infraspinatus (IS), teres minor (TM), and subscapularis (SubSC). Rotator cuff syndrome (RDCS) constitutes a spectrum of disease across a wide range of pathologies associated with injury or degenerative conditions affecting the rotator cuff. RCS includes subacromial impingement syndrome (SIS) and bursitis, RC tendonitis, partial-versus full-thickness RC tears (PTTs versus FTTs), and chronically, can influence the development of glenohumeral degenerative disease (DJD) and rotator cuff arthopathy.
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