The efficacy of stretching exercises to reduce posterior shoulder tightness acutely in the postoperative population: a single blinded randomized controlled trial.
BACKGROUND: Posterior shoulder tightness (PST) is a postoperative complication leading to pain, impaired mobility, and reduced function. Despite the potential morbidity associated with PST, no studies have investigated the efficacy of shoulder-stretching methods in the postsurgical population. The purpose of this study was to determine the short-term efficacy of two stretches designed to reduce PST. METHODS: The study enrolled 63 patients [mean age 51 (12) years, height 173.7 (3.6) cm, body mass 88.2 (17.9) kg]. The study was a single-blinded randomized control trial in which patients who had arthroscopic shoulder surgery were assigned to one of three groups: [(horizontal adduction stretch (n = 21), supine sleeper (n = 21), or control (n = 21)]. Dependent variables included measurements of internal rotation mobility, sidelying PST, pain, and the QuickDASH. Following the physical therapy (PT) initial evaluation, subjects were instructed to perform the allocated intervention twice daily until their first follow-up appointment 48-72 h following the initial PT visit. RESULTS: Between group analyses of dependent variables revealed significant differences within PST measurements (p = 0.005) (eta squared = 0.14) taken at baseline and follow-up (48-72 h) favoring horizontal adduction stretching. Post-hoc testing demonstrated superiority of horizontal adduction stretching over both the supine sleeper group (p = 0.01) and control (p = 0.002). DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: The horizontal adduction stretch is more effective at reducing acute PST in the postoperative shoulder population when compared to the supine sleeper stretch and no stretch at all. Knowledge of efficacious stretching methods may serve to reduce the potential morbidity associated with postoperative stiffness.
Salamh, PA; Kolber, MJ; Hegedus, EJ; Cook, CE
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