Question:I'm 48 years old with an old rotator cuff tear. I've tried rehab and I've done exercises for five years. I can't seem to reduce the pain or get any increase in motion so I've decided to have surgery to repair the torn rotator cuff. Will this really take care of the problem?
Many people of all ages have rotator cuff repair surgery with good results. They report decreased pain. If they had a clicking sound or sensation before the operation, this is often gone afterwards.
The Mayo Clinic just released the results of a long-term study of rotator cuff repairs in patients younger than 50. The results were a bit disappointing. More than half the patients had a "poor" result, meaning they still had pain and no increase in motion. Many of the patients who did have improved pain still reported loss of shoulder motion and strength. About 25 percent of the patients ended up having a second operation later.
The reason for these poor results is unclear. More studies of this kind are needed to compare patients from clinic to clinic. Ask your doctor what kind of results he or she has seen in your area. Ask what you might be able to expect for both short- and long-term results.John W. Sperling, MD, et al. Rotator Cuff Repair in Patients Fifty Years of Age and Younger. In Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery. October 2004. Vol. 86-A. No. 10. Pp.2212-2215.
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