A self-managed single exercise programme versus usual physiotherapy treatment for rotator cuff tendinopathy: A randomised controlled trial (the SELF study)
Objectives: To evaluate the clinical effectiveness of a self-managed single exercise programme versus usual physiotherapy treatment for rotator cuff tendinopathy. Design: Multi-centre pragmatic unblinded parallel group randomised controlled trial. Setting: UK National Health Service. Participants: Patients with a clinical diagnosis of rotator cuff tendinopathy. Interventions: The intervention was a programme of self-managed exercise prescribed by a physiotherapist in relation to the most symptomatic shoulder movement. The control group received usual physiotherapy treatment. Main outcome measures: The primary outcome measure was the Shoulder Pain & Disability Index (SPADI) at three months. Secondary outcomes included the SPADI at six and twelve months. Results: A total of 86 patients (self-managed loaded exercise n = 42; usual physiotherapy n = 44) were randomised. Twenty-six patients were excluded from the analysis because of lack of primary outcome data at the 3 months follow-up, leaving 60 ( n = 27; n = 33) patients for intention to treat analysis. For the primary outcome, the mean SPADI score at three months was 32.4 (SD 20.2) for the self-managed group, and 30.7 (SD 19.7) for the usual physiotherapy treatment group; mean difference adjusted for baseline score: 3.2 (95% Confidence interval -6.0 to +12.4 P = 0.49). By six and twelve months there remained no significant difference between the groups. Conclusions: This study does not provide sufficient evidence of superiority of one intervention over the other in the short-, mid- or long-term and hence a self-management programme based around a single exercise appears comparable to usual physiotherapy treatment.