Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder News

Rotator Cuff Repair in Older Athletes

Athletes involved in overhead throwing sports are at risk for rotator cuff tears. Most of these players are young adults. But there are a fair number of middle-aged and older adults who still play competitively in recreational or amateur overhead-throwing sports. They are the subject of this study on arthroscopic rotator cuff repairs.

Athletes (men and women) in the 46 to 69 year age range were included in this study. All patients had arthroscopic surgery to repair a supraspinatus tear. The supraspinatus is one of the four muscles/tendons that make up the rotator cuff in the shoulder. Everyone was followed for at least two years.

Results for the group of athletes were compared to a similar group of adults who were not invovled in sports. Measures of outcomes included MRI results showing the structural integrity of the repair, pain, motion, and strength. Function and retear rate were also measured and compared. Evaluation of sporting activity for both groups was rated by the athlete three different times: before injury, before surgery, after surgery.

Everyone followed the same rehab program after surgery. Everyone improved in pain, motion, strength, and endurance. Retear rates were the same for both groups (about 25 per cent). At the end of two years, all athletes were back in action and at (or close to) their preinjury level of participation. Those who injured their dominant arm had a better result after the surgery.

The authors conclude that arthroscopic repair of rotator cuff tears can have good to excellent results in older athletes. Women tend to have more pain than men afterwards. But they regain endurance and joint range of motion faster and better.


Dennis Liem, MD, et al. Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair in Overhead-throwing Athletes. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. July 2008. Vol. 36. No. 7. Pp. 1317-1322.

07/24/2008

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