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      A randomized clinical study of the heated lidocaine/tetracaine patch versus subacromial corticosteroid injection for the treatment of pain associated with shoulder impingement syndrome

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          Treatment for pain due to shoulder impingement syndrome (SIS) typically begins conservatively with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and physical therapy and can include subacromial injection of corticosteroids, particularly in patients unresponsive to conservative measures. The heated lidocaine/tetracaine (HLT) patch has been reported to reduce SIS pain in a small case series.


          This was a prospective, randomized, open-label clinical trial in which adult patients with SIS pain lasting at least 14 days, with an average intensity of ≥4 on a 0–10 scale (0= no pain, 10= worst pain) were randomized to treatment with the HLT patch or a single subacromial injection of triamcinolone acetonide (10 mg). Patients in the HLT patch group applied a single HLT patch to the shoulder for 4 hours twice daily, with a 12-hour interval between treatments during the first 14 days, and could continue to use the patch on an as-needed basis (up to twice daily) during the second 14-day period. No treatment was allowed in the final 14-day period. At baseline and at days 14, 28, and 42, patients rated their pain and pain interference with specific activities (0–10 scale).


          Sixty patients enrolled in the study (average age =51 years, range 18–75, n=21 female). Average pain scores declined from 6.0±1.6 at baseline to 3.5±2.4 at day 42 in the HLT patch group (n=29, P<0.001) and from 5.6±1.2 to 3.2±2.6 in the injection group (n=31, P<0.001). Similar improvements were seen in each group for worst pain; pain interference with general activity, work, or sleep; and range of motion. No significant between-group differences were seen for any pain or pain interference scores at any time point.


          These results suggest that short-term, noninvasive treatment with the HLT patch has similar efficacy to subacromial corticosteroid injections for the treatment of pain associated with SIS.

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          Most cited references 26

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          Anterior acromioplasty for the chronic impingement syndrome in the shoulder: a preliminary report.

           Charles Neer (1971)
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            Histopathology of common tendinopathies. Update and implications for clinical management.

            Tendon disorders are a major problem for participants in competitive and recreational sports. To try to determine whether the histopathology underlying these conditions explains why they often prove recalcitrant to treatment, we reviewed studies of the histopathology of sports-related, symptomatic Achilles, patellar, extensor carpi radialis brevis and rotator cuff tendons. The literature indicates that healthy tendons appear glistening white to the naked eye and microscopy reveals a hierarchical arrangement of tightly packed, parallel bundles of collagen fibres that have a characteristic reflectivity under polarised light. Stainable ground substance (extracellular matrix) is absent and vasculature is inconspicuous. Tenocytes are generally inconspicuous and fibroblasts and myofibroblasts absent. In stark contrast, symptomatic tendons in athletes appear grey and amorphous to the naked eye and microscopy reveals discontinuous and disorganised collagen fibres that lack reflectivity under polarised light. This is associated with an increase in the amount of mucoid ground substance, which is confirmed with Alcian blue stain. At sites of maximal mucoid change, tenocytes, when present, are plump and chondroid in appearance (exaggerated fibrocartilaginous metaplasia). These changes are accompanied by the increasingly conspicuous presence of cells within the tendon tissue, most of which have a fibroblastic or myofibroblastic appearance (smooth muscle actin is demonstrated using an avidin biotin technique). Maximal cellular proliferation is accompanied by prominent capillary proliferation and a tendency for discontinuity of collagen fibres in this area. Often, there is an abrupt discontinuity of both vascular and myofibroblastic proliferation immediately adjacent to the area of greatest abnormality. The most significant feature is the absence of inflammatory cells. These observations confirm that the histopathological findings in athletes with overuse tendinopathies are consistent with those in tendinosis--a degenerative condition of unknown aetiology. This may have implications for the prognosis and timing of a return to sport after experiencing tendon symptoms. As the common overuse tendon conditions are rarely, if ever, caused by 'tendinitis', we suggest the term 'tendinopathy' be used to describe the common overuse tendon conditions. We conclude that effective treatment of athletes with tendinopathies must target the most common underlying histopathology, tendinosis, a noninflammatory condition.
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              Rotator cuff tendinopathy/subacromial impingement syndrome: is it time for a new method of assessment?

               Helen J Lewis (2009)
              Disorders of the shoulder are extremely common, with reports of prevalence ranging from 30% of people experiencing shoulder pain at some stage of their lives up to 50% of the population experiencing at least one episode of shoulder pain annually. In addition to the high incidence, shoulder dysfunction is often persistent and recurrent, with 54% of sufferers reporting ongoing symptoms after 3 years. To a large extent the substantial morbidity reflects (i) a current lack of understanding of the pathoaetiology, (ii) a lack of diagnostic accuracy in the assessment process, and (iii) inadequacies in current intervention techniques. Pathology of the rotator cuff and subacromial bursa is considered to be the principal cause of pain and symptoms arising from the shoulder. Generally these diagnostic labels relate more to a clinical hypothesis as to the underlying cause of the symptoms than to definitive evidence of the histological basis for the diagnosis or the correlation between structural failure and symptoms. Diagnosing rotator cuff tendinopathy or subacromial impingement syndrome currently involves performing a structured assessment that includes taking the patient's history in conjunction with performing clinical assessment procedures that generally involve tests used to implicate an isolated structure. Based on the response to the clinical tests, a diagnosis of rotator cuff tendinopathy or subacromial impingement syndrome is achieved. The clinical diagnosis is strengthened with the findings from supporting investigations such as blood tests, radiographs, ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed axial tomography (CT), radionucleotide isotope scan, single photon emission computed tomography, electromyography, nerve conduction and diagnostic analgesic injection. This process eventually results in the formation of a clinical hypothesis, and then, in conjunction with the patient, a management plan is decided upon and implemented. This paper focuses on the dilemmas associated with the current process, and an alternative method for the clinical examination of the shoulder for this group of patients is proposed.

                Author and article information

                J Pain Res
                J Pain Res
                Journal of Pain Research
                Journal of Pain Research
                Dove Medical Press
                09 December 2014
                : 7
                : 727-735
                [1 ]Injury Care Medical Center, Boise, ID, USA
                [2 ]Analgesic Solutions, Natick, MA, USA
                [3 ]Nuvo Research Inc., West Chester, PA, USA
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Richard Radnovich, Injury Care Medical Center, 4850 North Rosepoint Way, Suite 100, Boise, Idaho 83713, USA, Tel +1 208 939 2100, Fax +1 208 939 4411, Email dr.radnovich@ 123456injurycaremedical.com
                © 2014 Radnovich et al. This work is published by Dove Medical Press Limited, and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License

                The full terms of the License are available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

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