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Short-Term Effectiveness of Precut Kinesiology Tape Versus an NSAID as Adjuvant Treatment to Exercise for Subacromial Impingement: A Randomized Controlled Trial.

OBJECTIVE: To compare the short-term effectiveness of precut kinesiology tape (PCT) to a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) as adjuvant treatment to exercise physiotherapy in improving pain and function in patients with shoulder impingement.

DESIGN: Randomized, controlled assessor-blind parallel-design trial with 3 groups.

SETTING: Academic-community hospital.

PATIENTS: One hundred patients (mean age: 48 ± 12.3, 61 men, 39 women) with a diagnosis of subacromial impingement (SAI) syndrome were randomized to a treatment group from October 2009 to June 2012. Eighty-one patients completed the study.

INTERVENTIONS: Patients were randomized to one of the 3 treatment groups: PCT and Exercise (n = 33), NSAID and Exercise (n = 29), or Exercise only (n = 38) for a 4 session 2-week intervention with a registered physiotherapist.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Numeric pain rating scales for pain at rest and pain with arm elevation, the Simple Shoulder Test (SST), and the Constant Score were assessed pretreatment and post-treatment.

RESULTS: A statistically significant reduction in pain at rest and pain with arm elevation, as well as improvement in SST and Constant Score were observed in all 3 treatment groups, with minimal clinically important differences shown on pain with elevation and SST scores. Between-group differences on all outcome measures were not statistically significant or clinically meaningful.

CONCLUSIONS: The improvements in pain and function observed with an NSAID or PCT as adjuvant treatments were no greater than with rehabilitation exercise alone. If adjuvant treatment is desired, PCT seems to be better tolerated than an NSAID, although the difference did not reach significance.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE: The routine addition of adjuvant treatment is not supported by the results of this study. As adjuvant therapy, PCT seems to be better tolerated than an NSAID. If desired, clinicians may consider incorporating PCT along with an exercise component in the conservative treatment of SAI syndrome.

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