Symptom Response To Mobilization and Outcomes in Patients With Subacromial Pain Syndrome: A Cohort Study

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Objectives: The objectives of this study were the following: (1) to determine if there was a difference in outcomes between immediate responders to glenohumeral mobilizations at the initial evaluation, 2-week, 4-week, and 6-month follow-up as compared to those that do not respond in participants with subacromial pain syndrome; (2) to see if there were statistically significant differences in outcomes within these groups between these time frames of interest, and (3) to see if symptom response at the initial evaluation was predictive of a favorable recovery.

Methods: This was a prospective, single-group observational design. Clinicians pragmatically identified positive responders as improving at least two points on the Numeric Pain Rating Scale and/or a 20° improvement in shoulder active range of motion (AROM) following shoulder mobilization at the initial evaluation. Data were collected for the subjective and objective variables of interest at the initial evaluation, 2-week, 4-week, and 6-month follow-up.

Results: The prevalence of responders at the initial evaluation was 99 (81.8%). There were no statistically significant between-group differences for the variables of interest except for the Global Rating of Change (GRoC; f = 2.79, p = 0.006). The shoulder abduction AROM between-group difference exceeded the minimal detectable change at 4 weeks. The pair-wise comparison showed statistically significant differences for the outcomes of interest at each time point except for the GRoC between 4 weeks and 6 months. There was a statistically significant correlation between responders at the initial evaluation and shoulder abduction AROM at the 4-week follow-up (rpb (112) = 0.27, p = 0.004).

Conclusion: Individuals with SAPS may benefit from shoulder mobilization independent of their within-session response to shoulder mobilization at the initial evaluation. Future research should seek to differentiate if these improvements are related to the within-session positive treatment response at the initial evaluation in individuals who are randomized to receive shoulder mobilization or not.


Online ahead of print May 2021.

Jonathan Harris is a graduate student in the Physical Therapy program at Sacred Heart University.






Physiotherapy Research International









pri1914-sup-0001-suppl-data (1).pdf (309 kB)
Supplemental data