original abstract†Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.
BACKGROUND: Arthroscopic sub-acromial decompression (decompressing the sub-acromial space by removing bone spurs and soft tissue arthroscopically) is a common surgery for subacromial shoulder pain, but its effectiveness is uncertain. We did a study to assess its effectiveness and to investigate the mechanism for surgical decompression.
METHODS: We did a multicentre, randomised, pragmatic, parallel group, placebo-controlled, three-group trial at 32 hospitals in the UK with 51 surgeons. Participants were patients who had subacromial pain for at least 3 months with intact rotator cuff tendons, were eligible for arthroscopic surgery, and had previously completed a non-operative management programme that included exercise therapy and at least one steroid injection. Exclusion criteria included a full-thickness torn rotator cuff. We randomly assigned participants (1:1:1) to arthroscopic subacromial decompression, investigational arthroscopy only, or no treatment (attendance of one reassessment appointment with a specialist shoulder clinician 3 months after study entry, but no intervention). Arthroscopy only was a placebo as the essential surgical element (bone and soft tissue removal) was omitted. We did the randomisation with a computer-generated minimisation system. In the surgical intervention groups, patients were not told which type of surgery they were receiving (to ensure masking). Patients were followed up at 6 months and 1 year after randomisation; surgeons coordinated their waiting lists to schedule surgeries as close as possible to randomisation. The primary outcome was the Oxford Shoulder Score (0 [worst] to 48 [best]) at 6 months, analysed by intention to treat. The sample size calculation was based upon a target difference of 4·5 points (SD 9·0). This trial has been registered at ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT01623011.
FINDINGS: Between Sept 14, 2012, and June 16, 2015, we randomly assigned 313 patients to treatment groups (106 to decompression surgery, 103 to arthroscopy only, and 104 to no treatment). 24 [23%], 43 [42%], and 12 [12%] of the decompression, arthroscopy only, and no treatment groups, respectively, did not receive their assigned treatment by 6 months. At 6 months, data for the Oxford Shoulder Score were available for 90 patients assigned to decompression, 94 to arthroscopy, and 90 to no treatment. Mean Oxford Shoulder Score did not differ between the two surgical groups at 6 months (decompression mean 32·7 points [SD 11·6] vs arthroscopy mean 34·2 points [9·2]; mean difference -1·3 points (95% CI -3·9 to 1·3, p=0·3141). Both surgical groups showed a small benefit over no treatment (mean 29·4 points [SD 11·9], mean difference vs decompression 2·8 points [95% CI 0·5-5·2], p=0·0186; mean difference vs arthroscopy 4·2 [1·8-6·6], p=0·0014) but these differences were not clinically important «Nice to see that in an abstract for once!». There were six study-related complications that were all frozen shoulders (in two patients in each group).
INTERPRETATION: Surgical groups had better outcomes for shoulder pain and function compared with no treatment but this difference was not clinically important. Additionally, surgical decompression appeared to offer no extra benefit over arthroscopy only. The difference between the surgical groups and no treatment might be the result of, for instance, a placebo effect or postoperative physiotherapy. The findings question the value of this operation for these indications, and this should be communicated to patients during the shared treatment decision-making process.
- Surgery: The ultimate placebo (book), by Ian Harris (book review).
- “Sham Surgery in Orthopedics: A Systematic Review of the Literature,” Adriaan Louw, Ina Diener, César Fernández-de-Las-Peñas, and Emilio J Puentedura, Pain Med, 2016.
Specifically regarding Beard 2017:
One article on PainScience.com cites Beard 2017 as a source:
- PS Frozen Shoulder Guide — An extremely detailed & readable guide to one of the strangest of all common musculoskeletal problems, for both patients and pros
This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights:
- Effectiveness of customised foot orthoses for Achilles tendinopathy: a randomised controlled trial. Munteanu 2015 Br J Sports Med.
- A Bayesian model-averaged meta-analysis of the power pose effect with informed and default priors: the case of felt power. Gronau 2017 Comprehensive Results in Social Psychology.
- The neck and headaches. Bogduk 2014 Neurol Clin.
- Agreement of self-reported items and clinically assessed nerve root involvement (or sciatica) in a primary care setting. Konstantinou 2012 Eur Spine J.
- Effect of NSAIDs on Recovery From Acute Skeletal Muscle Injury: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Morelli 2017 Am J Sports Med.