Don’t offer surgery to patients with common shoulder pain, experts say


Surgery should not be offered to patients with a common form of shoulder pain, experts have said.

Mounting evidence suggests an operation to relieve discomfort among people with shoulder impingement provides few benefits, new guidelines published in medical journal the BMJ state.

The condition, when a tendon inside the shoulder rubs on nearby tissues as the arm is lifted, is a common cause of shoulder pain in people over the age of 40.

It is also known as subacromial pain syndrome or rotator cuff disease.

Patients are sometimes offered subacromial decompression surgery to relieve their symptoms when other treatments have not worked.

However new evidence suggests the operation is not better at improving pain or quality of life than painkillers, steroid injections or exercises, the panel of experts said.

The group, which includes bone surgeons, physiotherapists, doctors and patients, made a “strong recommendation against surgery”.

“The panel concluded that almost all informed patients would choose to avoid surgery because there is no benefit but there are harms and it is burdensome,” they wrote.

“However, there is substantial uncertainty in what alternative treatment is best.”

A total of 21,000 of the procedures were carried out in the NHS on 2010 at a cost of £50 million, according to the article published in the BMJ.