Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ

Question:

I'm 73-years old and just diagnosed with a rotator cuff tear (left shoulder). I'm normally right-handed so it doesn't seem like a big deal. The orthopedic surgeon who saw me assured me that I'm not too old to have surgery to repair this problem. What do you think?

Answer:

The majority of studies show that age does not affect long-term outcomes for this type of surgery. Outstanding workers' comp claims is a bigger predictor of poor outcome. Most older adults are not involved in this type of controversy.

Older adults are more likely to experience rotator cuff problems. In a review of 50 studies, only four per cent of the patients under the age of 40 had a rotator cuff tear. This was compared to 54 per cent in patients more than 60 years old.

Older adults report improved pain relief and function after rotator cuff tear repairs. Even with poorer tendon quality due to aging, results after surgical repair can be very good. Younger patients are more likely to report satisfactory results but that doesn't mean older adults can't have excellent outcomes. Luke S. Oh, MD, MS, et al. Indications for Rotator Cuff Repair. In Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. February 2007. No. 455. Pp. 52-63.

*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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