Results of Rotator Cuff Tears among NFL PlayersThe National Football League (NFL) keeps records on players' injuries. This information can be used to help analyze injury patterns. Future trends in training, playing, and equipment may come from the results of this information.
For example, a survey was sent to 28 NFL team doctors. The doctors were asked how many complete tears of the shoulder rotator cuff were treated. Results of treatment were compared with the different methods of treatment.
Offensive linemen and linebackers had the most rotator cuff tears. Most of the time, it was caused by a fall onto the shoulder. Only a small number of players had to end their career because of this injury. More than 90 percent kept right on playing through the season. Surgery to repair the injury was usually delayed until after the season. A small number of players were able to return to the field without surgery.
Players who had surgery usually returned to the game within four or five months. This compares to at least 12 months in the nonathletic adult. Patients on worker's compensation often never return to work. Team doctors did report that the football players who returned to play were not totally without symptoms.
Douglas A. Foulk, MD, et al. Full-Thickness Rotator-Cuff Tears in Professional Football Players. In The American Journal of Orthopedics. November 2002. Vol. 31. No. 11. Pp. 622-624.
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