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J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2010 Oct;19(7):1034-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jse.2010.04.006. Epub 2010 Jul 24.

Does slower rehabilitation after arthroscopic rotator cuff repair lead to long-term stiffness?

Author information

  • 1Leni & Peter May Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY 10029, USA. bradford.parsons@mountsinai.org

Abstract

HYPOTHESIS:

Conservative rehabilitation after arthroscopic rotator cuff repair does not result in long-term stiffness and improves rates of tendon healing.

MATERIALS AND METHODS:

We retrospectively evaluated 43 patients with full-thickness rotator cuff tears who underwent a standardized, conservative protocol of full-time sling immobilization without formal therapy for 6 weeks after arthroscopic repair. At 6 to 8 weeks of follow-up, we categorized patients as "stiff" if they demonstrated forward elevation of less than 100° and external rotation of less than 30° passively; all others were designated "nonstiff." Active range of motion in forward elevation, external rotation, and internal rotation was assessed at 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year. American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons (ASES) and Constant-Murley scores were assessed at 1 year. Follow-up magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was obtained in all patients to assess tendon healing.

RESULTS:

Ten patients (23%) were considered stiff after rotator cuff surgery. At 1 year, there was no difference in mean forward elevation (166° vs 161°, P = .2), external rotation (62° vs. 58.4°, P = .5), or internal rotation (T7.4 vs T8.2, P = .07) between the stiff and nonstiff groups, respectively. There were no differences in final ASES (83 vs 79, P = .57) and Constant-Murley scores (77 vs. 74, P = .5). Repeat MRI suggested a trend toward a lower retear rate among the stiff patients (70% intact in stiff group vs 36% in nonstiff group, P = .079). Two clinically significant cuff retears occurred in the nonstiff cohort.

DISCUSSION:

Concerns for recalcitrant stiffness have led some to favor early postoperative therapy. We found that early restriction of motion did not lead to long-term stiffness after arthroscopic rotator cuff repair, even in patients who were clinically stiff in the early postoperative period.

CONCLUSIONS:

Sling immobilization for 6 weeks after arthroscopic rotator cuff repair does not result in increased long-term stiffness and may improve the rate of tendon healing.

Copyright © 2010 Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery Board of Trustees. Published by Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.

PMID:
20655763
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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