Shoulder surgery no better than placebo

22 November 2017

Kellogg Fellow, Professor David Beard has published a major new study which has found that common surgery to relieve shoulder pain may be “no better than a placebo”, despite more than 21,000 NHS operations a year.

Any benefits patients experience after decompression surgery, typically offered to people with a shoulder impingement where the tendon is trapped by the joint, are likely to be in the patients’ head, the report said. The findings, published in The Lancet, suggest the procedure is of limited value and the authors say this should be made clear to patients when discussing treatment options.

The study is the first of its kind to test the full procedure against a placebo surgery where the joint was inspected but no tissue removed.

Professor David Beard who was co-chief investigator on the study said: “Our findings call into question the value of shoulder decompression surgery for this group of patients, and should be communicated to patients and doctors considering this type of surgery.

“In light of our results, other ways to treat shoulder impingement could be considered, such as painkillers, physiotherapy and steroid injections.”

Read more:


Daily Telegraph

The Times 

Die Welt

Boots WebMD 


Arthritis Research UK