The University of Newcastle, Australia

Shoulder pain trial

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Today is World Physiotherapy Day, where we thank those rare and wonderful individuals who can take our pain away.

At the same time, University of Newcastle physiotherapy researchers are recruiting for a new trial investigating a condition called 'shoulder impingement syndrome' that's found among swimmers, cricketers and those who perform overhead work.

Shoulder pain prevalence increases with age, making it the third most common musculoskeletal cause for people to visit their GPs (behind neck and back pain). Half will still have consistent pain and impediment at 12 months.

"As you get older the spine gets a little more rounded and stiffer, creating a narrowing of space under a shoulder bone called the acromion," Associate Professor Suzanne Snodgrass said. "This causes discomfort and makes it harder for people to lift their arm over their head.

"Physiotherapists often look to treat the spine as well as the shoulder itself. Unfortunately we don't have good evidence to show this is appropriate."

The research team we will be doing spinal x-rays in people with shoulder pain and comparing them to healthy controls to see if the spinal posture does relate to this shoulder pain.

Study participants must be aged between 40-80 and not have any conditions that would normally prohibit an active assessment of their shoulder or thoracic spine. They should have experienced at least one episode of shoulder pain per week over the past three months.

Posture assessment, ultrasound examinations and x-rays are being done at the University of Newcastle's School of Health Sciences Research Laboratories in the Hunter Building.

For more information contact Associate Professor Snodgrass on (02) 4921 2089 or

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