Common surgery given to thousands of patients battling shoulder pain doesn’t work, according to mounting evidence.
Decompression surgery is used to manage the symptoms of the most common form of shoulder pain – subacromial pain syndrome (SAPS).
There are around 20,000 of the procedures performed in NHS hospitals every year, costing around £50million, figures show.
However, an international panel of 20 medical experts have now said decompression surgery provides no benefit after reviewing the evidence.
Writing in the British Medical Journal, they said they strongly advised against the surgery and said it is no better than painkillers.
SAPS, when a tendon inside the shoulder rubs on nearby tissues as the arm is lifted, is a common cause of shoulder pain in people over the age of 40.
It is also known as subacromial pain syndrome or rotator cuff disease.
Patients are sometimes offered subacromial decompression surgery to relieve their symptoms when other treatments have not worked.
It involves widening the space around the rotator cuff tendon, making sure that it doesn’t rub or catch on anything nearby, such as bone, as you move the arm.