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Epidemiology, common diagnoses, treatments and prognosis of shoulder pain: A narrative review

Hodgetts, C. and Walker, B.ORCID: 0000-0002-8506-6740 (2021) Epidemiology, common diagnoses, treatments and prognosis of shoulder pain: A narrative review. International Journal of Osteopathic Medicine, 42 . pp. 11-19.

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Shoulder pain is lacking a contemporary comprehensive overview article that summarizes key aspects of the presentation.


To provide a contemporary summary of the literature on shoulder pain, including: epidemiology, cost-of-illness, common diagnoses, common treatments, and prognosis.


PubMed, CINAHL and Google Scholar were searched using search terms including: shoulder pain, prevalence, epidemiology, diagnosis, risk factors, prognosis, surgery and conservative care. Information from the highest level of evidence available was synthesized and summarized.


Shoulder pain is the third most common musculoskeletal complaint and several cost of illness studies suggest it is of significance. Common diagnoses can be categorised on the anatomic region such as ‘intra-articular’, ‘anterior shoulder’ and ‘subacromial’. Despite surgery rates increasing in some areas, multiple systematic reviews suggest there is no difference in pain and disability outcomes between surgical interventions and conservative approaches. Several studies have revealed that only 50% of all new cases of shoulder pain completely recovery after six months, and 60% after 12 months.


Shoulder pain is a relatively common musculoskeletal complaint and costs associated appear reasonably high. Practitioners need to be aware of overlap with diagnostic terms, the equivalence of available interventions, and that shoulder pain conditions may not be self-limiting.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Psychology, Counselling, Exercise Science and Chiropractic
Publisher: Elsevier
Copyright: © 2021 Elsevier Ltd.
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