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Labral Tears of the Shoulder Are Not Age Dependent

Rotator cuff tears (RCTs) are more common as we get older. In this study, surgeons report on the relationship between RCTs, shoulder dislocations, and patient age. When the shoulder dislocates, the glenohumeral ligament is always torn. RCTs may or may not occur at the same time. This study shows that RCTs occur most often after repeated shoulder dislocations.

Patients at the Unit of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery in Ferrara, Italy were divided into three groups in this study. Each group had 50 patients. Group 1 had shoulder instability meaning the joint had dislocated at least twice. Group 2 had a complete RCT. Group 3 had both shoulder instability and RCTs. All patients were between the ages of 40 and 60 years old.

Arthroscopic exam found the following:
  • Group 1: Patients with instability had tears in the joint capsule and/or the labrum (a rim of cartilage around part of the shoulder socket).
  • Group 2: Findings matched the results of tests and imaging studies done before surgery; the supraspinatus tendon was torn most often (42 percent of cases). Patients often had tears in more than one tendon of the rotator cuff.
  • Group 3: One-third of the patients in this group had one or more torn tendons in the rotator cuff; one-third had just the torn capsule and labrum; one-third had both rotator cuff tear(s) and capsule and labral tears.

    The authors analyzed the data and made these observations:
  • A RCT is not linked with capsular or labral lesions; these injuries are independent of each other.
  • The more often the shoulder dislocates, the more likely a RCT will occur. The risk of RCT rises rapidly after seven dislocations.
  • It is impossible to tell if RCTs or capsule/labral tears cause or follow dislocation.
  • Labral tears do not depend on the person's age or on the number of dislocations.

    The authors conclude age does not seem linked to labral or capsula tears. This is true despite the fact that there are a larger number of these injuries in patients 50 years old or older. RCTs are more common with recurrent shoulder dislocations.

    Giuseppe Porcellini, M.D., et al. Shoulder Instability and Related Rotator Cuff Tears: Arthroscopic Findings and Treatment in Patients Aged 40 to 60 Years. In The Journal of Arthroscopic and Related Surgery. March 2006. Vol. 22. No. 3. Pp. 270-276.


    *Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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