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Needling with Irrigation for Rotator Cuff Calcific Tendinosis: A Systematic Review

10 May 2011


Background: Calcific deposits in the rotator cuff tendons cause a significant amount of shoulder pain and dysfunction in middle-aged adults, with prevalence estimated at 2.7 to 20%. The intervention of needling with irrigation may play a role in the treatment of the disease. This systematic review examines three studies using the GRADE method of evaluating medical literature.

Method: An extensive search of available medical literature was conducted using PubMed, Web of Science, Medline, and the Cochrane Systematic Reviews with the keywords mentioned below and limiting the results to the English language, humans, and studies published since the last available review, in 2006.

Results: Three studies were included in this review – one randomized controlled trial, one case control trial, and one case series. They examined the efficacy of needling with irrigation on calcific tendinosis based on the outcomes of pain reduction and restored shoulder range of motion (ROM) and function. All studies found statistical and clinical benefit in needling with irrigation in short-termed outcomes for pain, ROM, and shoulder function. Long-term benefit was not seen to be significant in the study with a control. The three studies averaged a GRADE ranking of low-quality evidence for the above outcomes due to limitations in study design.

Conclusion: Needling with irrigation for calcific tendinosis of the shoulder appears to be safe and effective therapy for decreasing pain and restoring ROM and shoulder function.


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