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Shoulder impingement syndrome in water polo players: muscle shortening manoeuvre controls pain intensity, recovers function and normalizes sonographic parameters

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To evaluate the effects of muscle shortening manoeuvre (MSM) by sonography (US) in professional water polo players with shoulder impingement syndrome (SIS).


Twenty-four professional water polo players (mean age: 22.13 ± 3.34) with SIS were assigned to one of 2 different treatment interventions: Group (1) MSM: a series of fast accelerations in the upward direction was applied to the upper limb that’s connected to a spring through a metal plate with a ring. The ring was linked to a pulley system that was submitted to forces acting in the opposite direction (added mass). Group (2) Simple traction: the series of fast accelerations were performed without the springs. Pain intensity, Yocum and Hawkins tests for SIS, Neer’s impingement sign, range of motion, muscle strength and shoulder US were assessed. The examination was performed before, immediately after and 30 days after each treatment to study the US width of subacromial-subdeltoid bursa (SSB), thickness of supraspinatus (ST), long biceps tendons (LBT); hypoechoic halo of surrounding the long biceps (LBH) and subscapular tendons (STH); width of acromio-clavicular joint capsule (ACJ) and the distance between bone heads (ACD). Impingement sign (IS) was evaluated by dynamic examination.


Immediately after treatment with MSM, pain was much reduced (p = 0.002); Yocum and Hawkins tests were decreased (p = 0.008, p = 0.031); Neer’s impingement sign was negative; range of motion and muscle strength were increased. US showed that the following parameters were significantly reduced: SSB (p = 0.001), LBT (p = 0.014), LBH (p = 0.014), SSH (p = 0.002), ACJ (p = 0.004), ACD (p = 0.001). IS was no more detected. After 30 days, the improvement of clinical and US findings was maintained. In the control group, after simple traction, no clinical amelioration of US parameters was found immediately after the procedure.


These data show that MSM could be significantly and rapidly effective against pain and the loss of function due to shoulder impingement in water polo players.

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Correspondence to Diego Longo.

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Longo, D., Branchi, E., Matucci-Cerinic, P. et al. Shoulder impingement syndrome in water polo players: muscle shortening manoeuvre controls pain intensity, recovers function and normalizes sonographic parameters. J Ultrasound 25, 667–673 (2022).

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