Improving shoulder function is important reason for choosing rotator cuff surgery

For patients with rotator cuff tears, improving shoulder function is the most important reason for moving forward with surgical repair, according to research presented today at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine's Annual Meeting in San Diego. Researchers also found that through arthroscopic rotator cuff repair (ARCR), these patients consistently saw significant functional improvements and relief from pain.

"Among the many reasons patients in our study chose surgery, 81% reported a desired return to normal shoulder function," noted lead author Danielle Weekes, MD, from the Rothman Institute in Egg Harbor Township, NJ. "At six months post-operation, American Shoulder and Elbow Society (ASES) Scores in the group improved overall from 42.6 to 77, showing the patients' objectives were met."

The study enrolled 149 patients planning to undergo ARCR. A questionnaire was provided to determine influences on the surgery decision-making process. Other key factors leading to patients opting for repair included a surgeon recommendation (80% reported), daily chronic pain (76%), concern for tear enlargement (76%), and an inability to sleep (72%). Males demonstrated a better functional outcome average score of 81.4 vs 69.9 for females after six months, and pre-operative narcotic use significantly correlated with poorer functional outcomes.

"While our study showed outcomes of ACRC are not determined by pre-operative decision-making factors on the part of the patient, it is important for physicians to be mindful of what patients hope to achieve through surgery," commented Weekes. "This research can contribute to making the most informed clinical treatment recommendations."

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