Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ


I retired this year from the construction business. A major reason I retired was because I injured my rotator cuff and had to have surgery. They repaired a torn supraspinatus tendon and shaved away some of the bone pressing on it. I still have a claim with Worker's Comp. My case worker made some snarky comment about how I would probably "be all better" when the claim was settled. Is that really something that happens to Worker's Compensation cases? I hate to think I'm that kind of person.


Sounds like you may have had a tendon repair (stitching it back to the bone) and a subacromial decompression procedure. Subacromial decompression refers to shaving away some of the bone along the acromion to take pressure off the rotator cuff. The acromion is the curved piece of bone that comes from the scapula (shoulder blade) across the top of the shoulder. A mini-open (small incision) approach using an arthroscope was used to perform the surgeries. Results of this procedure are not always the same for everyone. Age at the time of the injury and surgery as well as general health can make a difference. It's a known fact that cigarette smoking and diabetes are linked with slow or delayed healing (and sometimes failure to heal). But for the most part, patients followed in short- to long-term studies have good-to-excellent results. Outcomes are usually measured by pain level, shoulder motion, and shoulder function. Overall patient satisfaction is another way to measure success. Worker's compensation claims are often reviewed with an eye toward differences in patient outcomes when compared with patients who are not Worker's Comp. And, in fact, there are often some measurable (and sometimes questionable) differences. It is true that some people assume individuals receiving Worker's Compensation won't get better until the claim is settled. But a recent study of long-term results for rotator cuff tear repair with decompression showed that many patients continued to improve over time -- during and after the claim process. Sometimes patients retire as a result of the injury and become less active (putting less stress on the repair). That factor alone could account for why these individuals get better after the claims process is completed. Simon Bell FRCS, FRACS, PhD, et al. Long-Term Longitudinal Follow-up of Mini-Open Rotator Cuff Repair. In The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. January 16, 2013. Vol. 95A. No. 2. Pp. 151-157.

*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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