The Prevalence of Rotator Cuff Tears: Is the Contralateral Shoulder at Risk?

The American Journal of Sports Medicine (Impact Factor: 4.7). 02/2014; 42(4). DOI: 10.1177/0363546513519324
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT BACKGROUND:Rotator cuff tears are a common cause of pain and disability of the shoulder. Information on the prevalence and identification of potential risk factors could help in early detection of rotator cuff tears and improve treatment outcome. HYPOTHESIS:Patients treated for a symptomatic rotator cuff tear on one side have a higher prevalence of rotator cuff tears and decreased shoulder function on the contralateral side compared with an age- and sex-matched group of healthy individuals. STUDY DESIGN:Case control study; Level of evidence, 3. METHODS:One group consisted of 55 patients who had been arthroscopically treated on one shoulder for rotator cuff tear (tear group). In this group, the nonoperated contralateral shoulder was examined. For comparison, the matching shoulder in a control group consisting of 55 subjectively healthy individuals matched by age (±1 year) and sex to the tear group was included. Diagnosis of a rotator cuff tear was made by ultrasound. Outcomes were measured using the Constant score. RESULTS:The prevalence of supraspinatus tears was significantly higher (P < .0001) in the tear group (67.3%) compared with the control group (11.0%). The Constant score for the activities of daily living subscale, however, was significantly lower (18.4) in the tear group compared with the control group (19.9; P = .012). No other subcategory score nor the overall score showed a significant difference. There was a significantly higher tear prevalence in the tear group of patients aged between 50 and 59 years (P < .001) and 60 and 69 years (P = .004). No tear was diagnosed in the control group in individuals younger than 60 years. CONCLUSION:Patients treated for partial and full-thickness rotator cuff tears have a significantly higher risk of having a tear on the contralateral side and have noticeable deficits in their shoulder function regarding activities of daily living even if the tear is otherwise asymptomatic.

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    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study is to characterize the demographic features and physical function of subjects with asymptomatic rotator cuff tears and to compare their shoulder function with control subjects with an intact rotator cuff. This study enrolled 196 subjects with an asymptomatic rotator cuff tear and 54 subjects with an intact rotator cuff presenting with a painful rotator cuff tear in the contralateral shoulder. Various demographic features, shoulder function (American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons score and Simple Shoulder Test score), range of motion, and strength were compared. The demographic features of the study and control groups were similar. Hand dominance was associated with the presence of shoulder pain (P < .05). Subjects with an intact rotator cuff had greater but clinically insignificant American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons (P < .05) and Simple Shoulder Test (P < .05) scores than those with an asymptomatic tear. No differences in functional scores, range of motion, or strength were seen between partial-thickness tears (n = 61) and full-thickness tears (n = 135). Of the full-thickness tears, 36 (27%) were classified as small, 85 (63%) as medium, and 14 (10%) as large. No differences were seen in functional scores among full-thickness tears of various sizes. When asymptomatic, a rotator cuff tear is associated with a clinically insignificant loss of shoulder function compared with an intact rotator cuff. Therefore a clinically detectable decline in shoulder function may indicate an "at-risk" asymptomatic tear. The presence of pain is important in cuff-deficient shoulders for creating a measurable loss of shoulder function. Hand dominance appears to be an important risk factor for pain.
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