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Arthroscopy. 2011 Feb;27(2):155-60. doi: 10.1016/j.arthro.2010.07.007. Epub 2010 Oct 20.

Reduction of postoperative stiffness after arthroscopic rotator cuff repair: results of a customized physical therapy regimen based on risk factors for stiffness.

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  • 1Orthopedics International, Seattle, Washington, USA.



The purpose of this study was to determine the benefits of a modified rehabilitation protocol (incorporating early closed-chain overhead stretching) in reducing the risk of postoperative stiffness after arthroscopic rotator cuff repair.


During a 17-month period, we performed primary arthroscopic rotator cuff repairs in 152 patients. After surgery, patients with risk factors identified in the previous study (calcific tendonitis, adhesive capsulitis, PASTA [partial articular surface tendon avulsion]-type rotator cuff repair, concomitant labral repair, or single-tendon cuff repair) were enrolled in a modified rehabilitation protocol that added early overhead closed-chain passive motion exercises to our standard protocol; alternatively, patients without risk factors received a standard conservative rehabilitation program. Historical controls were used and comprised patients in the senior author's practice who all received the conservative rehabilitation protocol. The prevalence of postoperative stiffness was compared between the historical cohort and current study patients by use of Fisher exact tests.


Among the 152 patients studied, 79 were positive for at least 1 of the specified risk factors and received the modified protocol. Postoperative stiffness developed in none of the 79 patients enrolled in the modified program. This finding represented a significant improvement (Fisher exact test, P = .004) over the historical controls, in which 18 of the 231 at-risk patients had significant postoperative stiffness develop.


In at-risk patients (with calcific tendonitis, adhesive capsulitis, PASTA repair, concomitant labral repair, and single-tendon repair), a postoperative rehabilitation regimen that incorporates early closed-chain passive overhead motion can reduce the incidence of postoperative stiffness after arthroscopic rotator cuff repair.

Copyright © 2011 Arthroscopy Association of North America. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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