Rotator Cuff Surgery

A new study shows that shoulder function is not fully restored after rotator cuff surgery.

Shoulder motion after rotator cuff surgery remains significantly different when compared to the patient’s opposite shoulder, according to a Henry Ford Hospital study.

Researchers compared motion in the shoulders of 22 patients who had arthroscopic surgical repair of tendon tears and no symptoms in their other shoulders. An earlier study looked at 14 patients.
Researchers analyzed the motion of both shoulders at three, 12 and 24 months after surgery, looking at changes in shoulder motion and shoulder strength, according to a Jan. 16, 2011 Henry Ford Health System press release.

“Although patient satisfaction is generally very high after surgical repair of a torn rotator cuff, the data suggest that long-term shoulder function – in particular, shoulder strength and dynamic joint stability – may not be fully restored in every patient,” says Michael Bey, Ph.D., director of Herrick Davis Motion Analysis Lab at Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, Mich. “We found that the motion pattern of the repaired shoulder is significantly different than the patient’s opposite shoulder. These differences in shoulder motion seem to persist over time in some patients.”

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, rotator cuff tears are a common cause of pain and disability among adults, especially among those over age 40. The rotator cuff is comprised of four muscles and several tendons that create a covering around the top of the upper arm bone. The rotator cuff holds the bone in and enables the arm to rotate.

The rotator cuff can be torn from a single injury but most tears result from overuse of the muscles and tendons over years. Those at especially high risk are those who engage in repetitive overhead motions. Common treatments include anti-inflammatory medication, steroid injections, physical therapy and surgery.

For more about how physical therapists help people with shoulder pain to avoid surgery, as well as recover from shoulder surgery, contact A Physical Therapist, Inc.

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