Is There a Decrease in the Acromiohumeral Distance Among Recreational Overhead Athletes With Rotator Cuff–Related Shoulder Pain?

in Journal of Sport Rehabilitation
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Context: Recreational overhead athletes are exposed to high overload, which increases the risk of shoulder injuries. Reduction of the acromiohumeral distance (AHD) is often associated with rotator cuff–related shoulder pain (RCRSP) among the general population. However, the AHD of symptomatic shoulders of recreational athletes has not yet been compared with their asymptomatic shoulders. Objective: To compare the AHD of a symptomatic to asymptomatic shoulder at rest (0°) and 60° abduction. To establish the relationship between AHD, pain, and functional limitations of recreational athletes with RCRSP. Design: Cross-sectional study. Setting: University laboratory. Participants: A total of 45 recreational overhead athletes with RCRSP were examined. Main Outcome Measures: The AHD was measured by ultrasonography at 0° and 60° abduction (angles). Shoulder pain was assessed using a numeric pain scale, whereas functional limitations were assessed using the The Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand questionnaire. Differences in the between-shoulders condition (symptomatic and asymptomatic) were determined using 2-way analysis of variance for repeated measures. A Pearson correlation established the relationship between AHD, pain, and functional limitations. Results: No angles × shoulder condition interactions (P = .776) nor shoulder condition effects (P = .087) were detected, suggesting no significant differences (P > .05) between asymptomatic and symptomatic shoulders in the AHD at 0° or 60°. The AHD at 60° reduced significantly compared with 0° (3.05 [1.36] mm [2.77–3.33], angle effects: P < .001). The AHD at 0° and 60° was not correlated with pain or functional limitations (−.205 ≤ r ≤ .210, .167 ≤ P ≤ .585). Conclusions: The AHD of recreational athletes is not decreased in symptomatic shoulders compared with asymptomatic shoulders. Reduction of the AHD in symptomatic shoulders is not associated with an increase in pain or functional limitations of recreational athletes with RCRSP.

de Oliveira is with the Laboratory of Biomechanical and Neurophysiological Research in Neuro-musculoskeletal Rehabilitation (Lab BioNR), Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, Chicoutimi, QC, Canada. de Oliveira, Ager, and Roy are with the Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Rehabilitation and Social Integration, CIUSSS-CN, Quebec City, QC, Canada. de Oliveira and Roy are also with the Department of Rehabilitation, Faculty of Medicine, Université Laval, Quebec City, QC, Canada. Ager is also with the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences and Physiotherapy, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.

de Oliveira (fabio.oliveira1@uqac.ca) is corresponding author.
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