Effects of local microwave diathermy on shoulder pain and function in patients with rotator cuff tendinopathy in comparison to subacromial corticosteroid injections: a single-blind randomized trial

Alessia Rabini, Diana B Piazzini, Carlo Bertolini, Laura Deriu, Maristella F Saccomanno, Domenico A Santagada, Antonio Sgadari, Roberto Bernabei, Carlo Fabbriciani, Emanuele Marzetti, Giuseppe Milano
Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy 2012, 42 (4): 363-70

STUDY DESIGN: Single-blind randomized clinical trial, with a follow-up of 24 weeks.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the effects of hyperthermia via localized microwave diathermy on pain and disability in comparison to subacromial corticosteroid injections in patients with rotator cuff tendinopathy.

BACKGROUND: Hyperthermia improves symptoms and function in several painful musculoskeletal disorders. However, the effects of microwave diathermy in rotator cuff tendinopathy have not yet been established.

METHODS: Ninety-two patients with rotator cuff tendinopathy and pain lasting for at least 3 months were recruited from the outpatient clinic of the Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, University Hospital, Rome, Italy. Participants were randomly allocated to either local microwave diathermy or subacromial corticosteroids. The primary outcome measure was the short form of the Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand Questionnaire (QuickDASH). Secondary outcome measures were the Constant-Murley shoulder outcome score and a visual analog scale for pain assessment.

RESULTS: At the end of treatment and at follow-up, both treatment groups experienced improvements in all outcome measures relative to baseline values. Changes over time in QuickDASH, Constant-Murley, and visual analog scale scores were not different between treatment arms.

CONCLUSION: In patients with rotator cuff tendinopathy, the effects of localized microwave diathermy on disability, shoulder function, and pain are equivalent to those elicited by subacromial corticosteroid injections.

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