Mend Physical Therapy Blog and Injury Information

Home Exercise Program Improves Pain, Function, and Medication Use In Patients With Shoulder Pain

June 19, 2020


Physical Therapy strengthening exercises remain the first line treatment for patients with shoulder diagnoses including impingement and rotator cuff pain. While immediate gains in range of motion and pain can be found using spinal and extremity manual therapy interventions, long term outcomes are achieved through a focused strength training program. Exercises are prescribed to target weak muscles in the rotator cuff and scapular muscles to improve the injured tissue and adjacent muscle’s capacity to tolerate a return to prior levels of activity. A recent study showed how effective these home exercises can be if they are done consistently from a patient’s home.

Santello and colleagues published their randomized controlled trial in the journal Clinical Rehabilitation (2020). Authors randomized 60 patients with shoulder pain currently waiting for a Physical Therapy appointment to one of two groups. The first group served as control and was advised to continue with their normal activities. The second group met with a Physical Therapist and was provided a one month exercise program. These patients then return to the Physical Therapist for a 2nd appointment at 30 days and a 2nd month of exercises was prescribed. Authors reported the home exercise program (plus 2 PT visits) significantly improved pain, function, and medication use compared to the control or wait and see group. Impressively, the number needed to treat was 1.2 for a single patient to see a drop in their disability index of at least 20 points.

Click Here to find out recommended home exercises for shoulder pain