Posterior shoulder pain and anterior instability: a preliminary clinical study.

Alessandro Castagna, Marco Conti, Mario Borroni, Giuseppe Massazza, Enzo Vinci, Giorgio Franceschi, Raffaele Garofalo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Different clinical tests have been suggested in the literature as significant indicators of anterior shoulder instability. Sometimes patients with recurrent anterior shoulder instability may show some muscular guarding thus making the evaluation of specific clinical tests very difficult. These patients may also report a medical history with posterior shoulder pain that can be also elicited during some clinical manoeuvres. From September 2005 to September 2006 we prospectively studied patients who underwent an arthroscopic anterior capsuloplasty. Shoulder clinical examination was performed including anterior shoulder instability tests (drawer, apprehension and relocation tests). Furthermore the exam was focused on the presence of scapular dyskinesia and posterior shoulder pain. The patients were also evaluated with ASES, Rowe, SST (Simple Shoulder Test), Constant and UCLA (University of California at Los Angeles) scoring system preoperatively and at the latest follow-up time. In the period of this study we observed 16 patients treated for anterior gleno-humeral arthroscopic stabilisation, who preoperatively complained also of a posterior scapular pain. The pain was referred at the level of lower trapezium and upper rhomboids tendon insertion on the medial border of the scapula. It was also reproducible upon local palpation by the examiner. Four of these patients also referred pain in the region of the insertion of the infraspinatus and teres minor. After arthroscopic stabilisation the shoulder was immobilised in a sling with the arm in the neutral rotation for a period of 4 weeks. A single physician supervised shoulder rehabilitation. After a mean time of 6.8 months of follow-up, all the shoulder scores were significantly improved and, moreover, at the same time the patients referred the disappearance of the posterior pain. Posterior scapular shoulder pain seems to be another complaint and sign that can be found in patients affected by anterior shoulder instability. It can also be related to eccentric work of posterior stabilising muscles of scapula during the altered biomechanics observed in case of anterior shoulder instability. This pain responds positively to surgical intervention showing that re-centring the humeral head probably also re-establishes the periscapular muscle-firing pattern with a mechanism mediated by the proprioceptive system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-83
Number of pages5
JournalLa Chirurgia degli organi di movimento
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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