Methods: A literature search of MEDLINE, CINAHL, MANTIS, the Cochrane Musculoskeletal Group trials register and the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register was conducted. Search terms included chiropractic or manipulative therapy and shoulder pain, impingement, rotator cuff, shoulder instability, shoulder joint, treatment or rehabilitation exercises. Publications were included if they contained shoulder pain or contained a specific clinical diagnosis of a shoulder pain syndrome in the title; a detailed description of the treatment intervention which was typical of the profession; treatment performed by a registered practitioner and outcome measures were included in the studies. Exclusion criteria included the diagnosis of adhesive capsultis or referred/pathological pain. The articles were reviewed and clinical trials ranked on the Physiotherapy Evidence Database scale.
Results: From a total of 913 retrieved publications, 22 case reports, 4 case series and 4 randomized, controlled trials met the inclusion and exclusion criteria for this review.
Conclusions: The literature contains 2 articles of reasonably sound methodology. The evidence for chiropractic management of shoulder pain is limited to low level evidence in the form of case reports and case series and 1 small controlled trial. There is a need for more well-designed, trials investigating multi-modal chiropractic management for shoulder pain.
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