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Context:

Recent establishment of G-codes by the US government requires therapists to report function limitations at initial evaluation. Limited information exists specific to the most common limitations in patients with shoulder pain.

Objective:

To describe the most commonly expressed shoulder limitations with activities and their severity/level of impairment from a patient’s perspective on the initial evaluation.

Design:

Descriptive.

Setting:

Patients reporting pain with overhead activity and seeking medical attention from one orthopedic surgeon were recruited as part of a cohort study.

Patients:

176 with shoulder superior labral tear from anterior to posterior (SLAP), subacromial impingement, combined SLAP and rotator cuff, and nonspecific (female = 53, age = 41 ± 13 y; male = 123, age = 41 ± 12 y).

Interventions:

Data were obtained on the initial visit from the Patient-Specific Functional Scale (PSFS) questionnaire. Three researchers extracted meaningful concepts from the PSFS and linked them to the International Classification of Functioning (ICF) categories according to established ICF linking rules.

Results:

176 participants yielded 765 meaningful concepts that were linked to the ICF with a 66% agreement between researchers before consensus. There were no differences between diagnoses. Of all patients, 88% reported functional limitations coded into meaningful concepts as represented by 10 ICF codes; 634 (83%) meaningful concepts were linked to the activities and participation domain while 129 (17%) were linked to the body function domain. Only 2 reported functional limitations that were considered nondefinable (nd). The overall average initial impairment score on the PSFS = 4 ± 2.5 out of 10 points.

Conclusion:

Meaningful concepts from the activities and participation domain were most commonly identified as functional limitations and were more prevalent than limitations from the body function domain. This information helps identify some of the most common limitations in patients with shoulder pain that therapists can use to efficiently document patient functional impairment.

Smith-Forbes and Uhl are with the Dept of Rehabilitation Sciences, and Westgate, is with the Dept of Biostatistics, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY. Moore-Reed is with the Dept of Kinesiology, California State University, Fresno, Fresno, CA. Kibler is with The Shoulder Center of Kentucky, Lexington KY.

Address author correspondence to Tim Uhl at tluhl2@uky.edu.