Clinical Scenario: Shoulder pain is a very common symptom encountered in outpatient physical therapy practice. In addition to therapeutic exercise and manual therapy interventions, trigger point dry needling (TDN) has emerged as a possible treatment option for reducing shoulder pain and improving function. Dry needling consists of inserting a thin stainless-steel filament into a myofascial trigger point with the intention of eliciting a local twitch response of the muscle. It is theorized that this twitch response results in reduced muscle tension and can aid in reduced pain and disability. To this point, multiple studies have found TDN to be effective at reducing pain and improving function in the short-term, but the long-term outcomes remain unknown. Clinical Question: Does the addition of TDN to an exercise program result in better long-term pain intensity and disability reduction in patients with shoulder pain? Summary of Findings: Improvement in long-term pain and function can be expected regardless of the addition of TDN to an evidence-based exercise program for patients with shoulder pain. Clinical Bottom Line: Either TDN or an evidence-based therapeutic exercise program elicits improved long-term pain and disability reduction in patients with shoulder pain, which suggests that clinicians can confidently use either approach with their patients. Strength of Recommendation: Strong evidence (level 2 evidence with PEDro scores >8/10) suggesting that TDN does not outperform therapeutic exercise regarding long-term pain reduction.
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Kyle Matsel, Claire Davies, and Tim Uhl
Oliver Silverson, Nicole Cascia, Carolyn M. Hettrich, Matt Hoch, and Tim Uhl
Clinical Scenario: Assessing movement of the scapula is an important component in the evaluation and treatment of the shoulder complex. Currently, gold-standard methods to quantify scapular movement include invasive technique, radiation, and 3D motion systems. This critically appraised topic focuses on several clinical assessment methods of quantifying scapular upward rotation with respect to their reliability and clinical utility. Clinical Question: Is there evidence for noninvasive methods that reliably assess clinical measures of scapular upward rotation in subjects with or without shoulder pathologies? Summary of Key Findings: Four studies were selected to be critically appraised. The quality appraisal of diagnostic reliability checklist was used to score the articles on methodology and consistency. Three of the 4 studies demonstrated support for the clinical question. Clinical Bottom Line: There is moderate evidence to support reliable clinical methods for measuring scapular upward rotation in subjects with or without shoulder pathology. Strength of Recommendation: There is moderate evidence to suggest there are reliable clinical measures to quantify scapular upward rotation in patients with or without shoulder pathology.
Nicole Cascia, Tim L. Uhl, and Carolyn M. Hettrich
Clinical Scenario: Ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) injuries are highly prevalent in professional baseball players with the success of operative management being well known in the literature. Return to play (RTP) rates following nonoperative management of partial UCL injuries in professional baseball players are not well established in the literature. With a UCL tear being a potential career-ending injury, it is imperative that the best treatment option is provided to these throwing athletes. There is an increase in the incidence of UCL surgical rates and a lack of general agreement on nonoperative treatment of partial UCL injuries as reported by the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons in 2017. There is also a lack of clarity on when to initiate rehabilitation, which may be due to the limited amount of studies reporting success of RTP rates and time to RTP following conservative interventions of partial UCL injuries. Evidence on the RTP rates seen following conservative management of partial UCL tears injuries can help guide health care providers in deciding on the best treatment option for professional baseball athletes who desire to return to their athletic careers. These rates of RTP will add valuable objective input when determining if conservative management is the best choice. To determine the current evidence, inclusion criteria for the literature search consisted of RTP rates following conservative treatment in professional baseball players between inception and 2018. Clinical Question: Is there evidence for successful RTP rates in professional baseball players following conservative treatment of a UCL injury? Summary of Key Findings: Three retrospective studies met the inclusion criteria and were included. Of those, 2 reported RTP rates following a nonoperative rehabilitation program of a UCL injury, whereas 1 reported RTP rates after injection therapy in subjects who attempted a trial of conservative treatment. All 3 studies considered location and grade of UCL tear. Successful RTP rates (66%–100%) were reported in professional baseball players following nonoperative treatment of partial UCL injuries. Clinical Bottom Line: Current evidence supports high success with RTP rates up to 100% after nonoperative treatment of grade 1 UCL injuries in professional baseball players and between 66% and 94% for a grade 2 and above. Strength of Recommendation: There is level C evidence for high RTP rates following nonoperative treatment of partial UCL injuries in professional baseball players.