Acute Effects of Scapular Mobilization in Shoulder Dysfunction: A Double-Blind Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial

in Journal of Sport Rehabilitation
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The aim of this study was to evaluate the initial effects of scapular mobilization (SM) on shoulder range of motion (ROM), scapular upward rotation, pain, and function.


Pretest–posttest for 3 groups (SM, sham, and control).


A double-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled trial was conducted to evaluate the initial effect of the SM at a sports physiotherapy clinic.


39 subjects (22 women, 17 men; mean age 54.30 ± 14.16 y, age range 20-77 y).


A visual analog scale, ROM, scapular upward rotation, and function were assessed before and just after SM. SM (n = 13) consisted of the application of superoinferior gliding, rotations, and distraction to the scapula. The sham (n = 13) condition replicated the treatment condition except for the hand positioning. The control group (n = 13) did not undergo any physiotherapy and rehabilitation program.

Main Outcome Measures:

Pain severity was assessed with a visual analog scale. Scapular upward rotation was measured with a baseline digital inclinometer. Constant Shoulder Score (CSS) was used to measure shoulder function.


After SM, we found significant improvements for shoulder ROM, scapular upward rotation, and CSS between pretreatment and posttreatment compared with the sham and control groups. In the sham group, shoulder-ROM values increased or decreased for the shoulder and scapular upward rotation was not changed. Pain, ROM, and physical function of the shoulder were not significantly different in the sham group than in controls (P > .05).


SM may be a useful manual therapy technique to apply to participants with a painful limitation of the shoulder. SM increases ROM and decreases pain intensity.

Surenkok is with the Dept of Hydrotherapy, and Aytar, the Dept of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation, Baskent University, Ankara, Turkey. Baltaci is with the Dept of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation, Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey.