Skip the Steroids for Shoulder Pain?

Skip the Steroids for Shoulder Pain?
Skip the Steroids for Shoulder Pain?

(HealthDay News) — For relief of shoulder pain, physical therapy and steroid shots provide similar results, according to a study published in the August 5 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Researchers compared the two nonsurgical approaches in a group of 104 adults suffering from shoulder pain caused by rotator cuff problems, tendinitis, or bursitis. "Whether you had a steroid injection or physical therapy, the improvement in each group was the same," lead researcher Daniel Rhon, DSc, from the Center for the Intrepid at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, told HealthDay. "It was also a rather large improvement, about 50%, and this improvement was maintained for at least one year," he added.

But the group that received injections used more health care services and had significantly more shoulder-related doctor visits during the year of the study, Rhon said. In addition, 20% of those who got injections ended up going to physical therapy anyway, and about 40% who got shots needed more than one injection. About one in five in the physical therapy group also got an injection during the year of follow-up.

The findings should reassure patients who prefer to avoid injections. "Some patients really do not like injections, so physical therapy may be a great and effective option," Rhon said.

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