Surgery

Common shoulder surgery no better than placebo

Date: 22 November 2017

A common type of surgery is no better than placebo surgery for people with shoulder pain, according to new research supported by the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre.

Subacromial decompression surgery is used to treat pain arising from shoulder impingement, which occurs when shoulder tendons rub or catch on nearby tissue and bone. This technique is one of the most commonly used surgeries in orthopaedics, with the number of patients in England rising almost 10-fold between 2000 and 2010.

In this study, published in The Lancet, 313 people with shoulder impingement were randomly assigned to decompression surgery, placebo surgery or no treatment.

At six months after surgery, people who received decompression surgery rated their pain similarly to those who had placebo surgery. Both types of surgery were slightly more effective at reducing pain compared to no treatment, although the difference was small and not likely to result in a noticeable effect.

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  • Summary:
    A common type of surgery is no better than placebo surgery for people with shoulder pain, according to new research supported by the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre.
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