Does suprascapular nerve block reduce shoulder pain following stroke: a double-blind randomised controlled trial with masked outcome assessment

Zoe A Allen, E Michael Shanahan, Maria Crotty
BMC Neurology 2010, 10: 83

BACKGROUND: Shoulder pain is a common complication of a stroke which can impede participation in rehabilitation programs and has been associated with poorer outcomes. The evidence base for current medical and therapeutic management options of hemiplegic shoulder pain is limited. This study will evaluate the use of suprascapular nerve block injection as part of an interdisciplinary approach to the treatment of shoulder pain following stroke. The technique has previously been proven safe and effective in the treatment of shoulder pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis and degenerative shoulder conditions but its usefulness in a stroke population is unclear.

METHODS/DESIGN: A double blind randomised placebo controlled trial will assess the effect of a suprascapular nerve block compared with placebo in a population of 66 stroke patients. The trial will measure effect of injection on the primary outcome of pain, and secondary outcomes of function and quality of life. Measurements will take place at baseline, and 1, 4 and 12 weeks post intervention. Both groups will continue to receive routine physiotherapy and standard ward care.

DISCUSSION: The results of this study could reduce pain symptoms in persons with mechanical shoulder pain post stroke and provide improvement in upper limb function.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: This trial is registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR) - ACTRN12609000621213.

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