The benefits of manual physical therapy on rotator cuff syndrome

Hopefully your week is going well and you have some exciting weekend plans coming up!  Last weekend I volunteered my time to present at the Muskego Health Fair on common running injuries and had a great time.  It was a lot of fun to meet people in the community and help educate some of them on certain injuries.  This week I am really excited to share a great research article with you that just came out in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy regarding manual therapy with rotator cuff tendinopathy.  Don’t get scared off by “research article” and read on to learn more.
Being very manual therapy focused, I’m always looking for good evidence to back it up.  As I’ve seen in the clinic (and I’m sure many others have), patients get better, quicker with manual therapy versus exercise alone.  For this reason, I designed my practice in order to provide that care.  However, in years past, there has not been much research on the effects of manual therapy.  Recently, I have seen more and more articles on manual therapy which is great because Physical Therapists should practice in an evidence-based manner.  Now there are articles to support what I have seen clinically.
This systematic review published in May looked at multiple research articles and compared them in order to find the highest quality of research.  It compared studies with patients that were undergoing treatment for rotator cuff tendinopathy (a fairly common injury) and compared treatments of manual therapy and exercise.  They found that there was a significant improvement in pain with just manual therapy and also manual therapy with exercise.  This shows that there is an added benefit to including manual therapy into the treatment of rotator cuff.  Granted, there were some disadvantages in the research such as high bias and small sample size of research studies.  But this is promising for future research and an exciting finding.
What does all of this mean for you?  If you or someone you know is experiencing rotator cuff dysfunction, there are better outcomes when you receive manual therapy as part of your Physical Therapy treatment.  I can also talk from experience that I have seen people improve after one session of manual therapy.  Feel free to reach out to me with any questions and if you are in the Greater Milwaukee area, I would be more than happy to schedule a consultation with you to start rehab.  Please email me at to schedule your consultation today.
Desjardins-Charbonneau et al. The Efficacy of Manual Therapy for Rotator Cuff Tendinopathy: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2015; 45(5): 330-350.

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