Subacromial impingement syndrome: a survey of Italian physiotherapists and orthopaedics on diagnostic strategies and management modalities

Fabrizio Brindisino, Diego Ristori, Mariangela Lorusso, Simone Miele, Leonardo Pellicciari, Giacomo Rossettini, Francesca Bonetti, John Duane Heick, Marco Testa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background and aim: The subacromial impingement syndrome (SIS) represents a common cause of disability in approximately 74% of patients with Shoulder Pain (SP). Even if contemporary research suggests that this mechanism is not (always) the dominant driver in SP, SIS is still a source of debate among scholars and clinicians. From a clinical point of view, evidence has suggested that clinicians can use both medical and physiotherapy approaches as effective methods to treat SIS. This survey aims to investigate models of management of patients with SIS in a sample of Italian physiotherapist specialists (Orthopaedic Manipulative Physical Therapists, −OMPTs-) and orthopaedic surgeons. Materials and methods: An online survey with 29-item questionnaire was administered to assess the knowledge of OMPTs and orthopaedic surgeons about: a) strategies of clinical examination; b) the role of imaging in the diagnostic process; c) the physiotherapy management; and d) the pharmacological and surgical management in patients with SIS. Results: Six-hundred and twenty-nine respondents completed the survey (511 OMPTs (79.97%) and 128 orthopaedic surgeons (20.03%)). Ninety-two percent (n = 470) of the OMPTs and 80.5% (n = 103) of orthopaedic surgeons stated that in patients with SIS, a combination of diagnostic tests produced better accuracy (p = < 0.001). Twenty point seven % of OMPTs (n = 106) and 4.7% of orthopaedic surgeon (n = 6) stated that the Lift off was the most specific test (p = < 0.001). Four-hundred-and-twenty-four OMPTs (83%) and 40 orthopaedic surgeons (31.3%) answered that the gold standard for diagnosis of a patient with SIS are history and clinical examination (p < 0.001). Conclusion: OMPTs and orthopaedic surgeons approach patients with SIS differently during both the assessment and the treatment. OMPTs appear to be appropriate in planning and managing clinical examination and therapeutic strategies to use with patients with SIS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number16
JournalArchives of Physiotherapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Italian survey
  • Orthopaedic manipulative physical therapists
  • Orthopaedic surgeons
  • Shoulder impingement syndrome
  • Shoulder pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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