Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ

Question:

Is 65 too old to have rotator cuff surgery? I've had a torn tendon since I was 50, but now that I'm on Medicare, I can finally have it operated on. As a senior, what kind of results can I expect?

Answer:

The older we get, the more things can go wrong with the body. Rotator cuff tears in the shoulder is one of those problems that seems to go hand-in-hand with the aging process. The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles, tendons, and the connective tissue covering them that surround the shoulder joint. The cuff helps keep the shoulder in the socket as well as moves the shoulder in all directions. If aging affects the rotator cuff, what's the effect of older age on recovery after surgery to repair a rotator cuff tear? Is it always true that age is a risk factor for a poor healing and less than optimal outcomes after surgery? There are some studies that suggest age is a risk factor, while still others show mixed results. Surgeons from the Seoul National University College of Medicine in Korea say, No -- age isn't as much of a problem as we once thought. According to the work they have done in this area, it looks like there are two other factors that may be more important than age when it comes to predicting the results. One of those is tendon retraction (how far the tendon has pulled away from the bone) and the amount of fatty degeneration is present between the retracted tendon and bone. Fatty degeneration refers to the body filling in the damaged area with fat instead of normal, healthy tendon cells. Once you see your orthopedic surgeon and have a full assessment, he or she can give you a better idea what can be done and what to expect. Don't hesitate to ask about age as a potential risk factor as well as any other factors you may be concerned about. Joo Han Oh, MD, PhD, et al. Effect of Age on Functional and Structural Outcome After Rotator Cuff Repair. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. April 2010. Vol. 38. No. 4. Pp. 672-678.

*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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