According to a new study, a rotator cuff repair surgery can help significantly reduce pain and improve shoulder functions, even after a tear recurrence.
Rotator cuff tears occur due to traumatic events like a fall or wear and tear over a period of time, something that is more common in athletes.
The study, to be presented at the 2009 American Orthopaedic Society of Sports Medicine Specialty Day in Las Vegas, evaluated a group of 15 patients about eight years after they received rotator cuff repair.
"We initially tested the patients at three years after their surgery and found that those with a recurrence of a tear were doing well," says lead author Dr. Christopher Dodson, of the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City where 839 rotator cuff repairs were preformed last year.
"The study analyzed whether having the original surgery produced any long-term benefits for the patient," he adds.
At an average of eight years after surgery, 15 patients completed four assessment surveys, of which 11 were re-examined with ultrasound testing.
The researchers observed that those who with recurrent rotator cuff defects were still better off in terms of pain, function, and strength than they were before the rotator cuff was originally repaired.
They also found that the recurrent tears grew in size, but remained painless and did not affect function.
According to them, none of the patients had needed further treatment or surgery, and none experienced any persistent shoulder pain.
"Our obvious concern for patients who have a recurrent rotator cuff defect after surgical repair is that symptoms may recur over time. Our study concluded that the patient will experience long-term benefit from surgery and remain asymptomatic, even if a recurrent defect is present. This is encouraging for both the surgeon and the patient undergoing rotator cuff repair," say the authors.