The Negative Impact of Comorbidities on Shoulder PainHere's a study that looks at the effect of diseases on patients with a chronic rotator cuff tear. All 206 shoulder patients were ready for surgery to repair the tear.
The focus of this research is comorbidities. A comorbidity occurs when one patient has more than one problem. For example a patient with a torn rotator cuff who also has diabetes, high blood pressure, and a thyroid problem is said to have comorbidities.
What's the effect of comorbidities on the patient's pain, function, and general health? That's what researchers at Brown Medical School in Rhode Island set out to find. They used several surveys and asked patients many questions before surgery.
They found that when two or more comorbidities are present, the patient had worse pain, less function, and lower overall health. The most common problems were low back pain, high blood pressure, and arthritis. Several other factors had a negative effect on patient pain and function. These factors included older age, patient hopes, and smoking.
The authors report a good result for most rotator cuff repair operations. Those patients who don't do well after surgery often have an increased number of comorbidities. This same group of patients has worse pain before the operation and poor overall health. It's unclear what effect the comorbidities may have on the long-term results of the operation. Future studies are needed to look at this.
Robert Z. Tashijan, MD, et al. The Effect of Comorbidity on Self-Assessed Function in Patients with a Chronic Rotator Cuff Tear. In The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. February 2004. Vol. 86-A. No. 2. Pp. 355-362.
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