JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Are corticosteroid injections more beneficial than anaesthetic injections alone in the management of rotator cuff-related shoulder pain? A systematic review

Tim Cook, Catherine Minns Lowe, Mark Maybury, Jeremy S Lewis
British Journal of Sports Medicine 2018, 52 (8): 497-504
29305377

OBJECTIVE: To compare the effectiveness of corticosteroid injections to local anaesthetic injections in the management of rotator cuff-related shoulder pain (RCRSP).

DESIGN: Systematic review with best evidence synthesis.

DATA SOURCES: The Cochrane, PubMed, CINAHL Plus, PEDro and EMBASE electronic databases were searched (inception until 8 June 2017). Reference lists of included articles were also hand searched.

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA: Two reviewers independently evaluated eligibility. Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) were included if they compared subacromial injections of corticosteroid with anaesthetic injections. Two reviewers independently extracted data regarding short-term, midterm and long-term outcomes for pain, self-reported function, range of motion and patient-perceived improvement.

RESULTS: Thirteen RCTs (n=1013) were included. Four trials (n=475) were judged as being at low risk of bias. Three studies of low risk of bias favoured the use of corticosteroid over anaesthetic-only injections in the short term (up to 8 weeks). There was strong evidence of no significant difference between injection types in midterm outcomes (12-26 weeks). There was limited evidence of no significant difference between injection types in long-term outcomes.

CONCLUSION: Corticosteroid injections may have a short-term benefit (up to 8 weeks) over local anaesthetic injections alone in the management of RCRSP. Beyond 8 weeks, there was no evidence to suggest a benefit of corticosteroid over local anaesthetic injections.

TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: PROSPERO CRD42016033161.

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