BACKGROUND: The underlying mechanisms for shoulder pain (SP) are still widely unknown. Previous reviews report signs of altered pain processing in SP measured using quantitative sensory testing (QST). Evidence suggests that QST might hold predictive value for SP after intervention, yet it is not known whether QST profiles can be modulated in response to different treatments. Therefore, this systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to assess if QST-parameters can be modified by interventions for patients with SP.
METHODS: Three databases were searched to identify eligible studies. Eligible studies had a prospective design, with at least one QST variable as an outcome in conjunction with an intervention measured before and after intervention. Studies that involved SP caused by spinal or brain injury and studies looking at combined chronic neck/shoulder pain were excluded.
RESULTS: 19 studies investigating SP were eligible for inclusion for this review. Pressure pain threshold (PPT) was the most frequently used QST-parameter investigating local and widespread hyperalgesia. A meta-analysis was performed with data from 10 studies with a total of 16 interventions. Results demonstrated an overall acute effect (<24 hours after intervention) of interventions in favour of local decreased pain sensitivity and of remote decreased pain sensitivity comparing PPTs before and after interventions.
CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates that interventions such as exercise and manual therapy can modulate PPTs acutely both locally and remotely in patients with shoulder pain. Further research investigating the acute and long-term modulatory ability of these interventions on other QST-parameters is needed in patients with shoulder pain.