Comparing Corticosteroid Preparation and Dose in the Improvement of Shoulder Function and Pain: A Randomized, Single-Blind Pilot Study

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Abstract

Introduction

Shoulder pain may arise from inflammation of the bursa separating the supraspinatus tendon from the coracoacromial ligament and acromion. The optimal treatment dose and preparation of intrabursal corticosteroid injection are unknown.

Methods

This single-blinded equivalence study recruited 62 subjects randomizing them to one of following four arms: methylprednisolone 20 mg, methylprednisolone 40 mg, triamcinolone acetonide 20 mg, or triamcinolone acetonide 40 mg. QuickDASH, subject-reported pain, and adverse events were recorded in time of injection, 3 days later, 3 wks later, and 6 wks later. Primary outcome was QuickDASH improvements 6 wks after injection.

Results

All four groups were equally matched regarding age, sex, ethnicity, and site injected. Six weeks after injection, no statistically significant changes were noted in QuickDASH improvement (as compared with time of injection) among the four arms. There were no statistically significant differences at 6 wks regarding improvement in pain. There were no statistically significant differences noted in adverse events among the four arms.

Conclusions

Neither dose nor preparation of injectable corticosteroid influences magnitude of improvement in function or pain experienced. Although this study provides clinically relevant insight regarding corticosteroid dose and type when managing shoulder pain, the modest sample size may limit the conclusions that can be made about efficacy and adverse effects.

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