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J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2017 May;26(5):766-773. doi: 10.1016/j.jse.2016.09.060. Epub 2017 Jan 12.

Are degenerative rotator cuff disorders a cause of shoulder pain? Comparison of prevalence of degenerative rotator cuff disease to prevalence of nontraumatic shoulder pain through three systematic and critical reviews.

Author information

1
Ecole Doctorale 566, Sciences du Sport et du Mouvement Humain, Orsay, France; Institut Franco-Européen de Chiropraxie, Ivry-Sur-Seine, France. Electronic address: karl.vincent@numericable.fr.
2
Ecole Doctorale 566, Sciences du Sport et du Mouvement Humain, Orsay, France; The Spine Center of Southern Denmark, Hospital Lillebælt and Institute of Regional Health Research, University of Southern Denmark, Middelfart, Denmark.
3
Ecole Doctorale 566, Sciences du Sport et du Mouvement Humain, Orsay, France; Institut Franco-Européen de Chiropraxie, Ivry-Sur-Seine, France.

Abstract

HYPOTHESIS AND BACKGROUND:

The role of degeneration is not well understood for rotator cuff pain. If age-related degenerative changes would be the cause of symptoms, degeneration would precede or concur with self-reported pain. We performed 3 systematic literature reviews. Our objectives were to determine the prevalence estimates for rotator cuff partial or complete tears (1) in cadavers and (2) in the general population and (3) to estimate the incidence/prevalence of self-reported nontraumatic shoulder pain in the general population in order to compare their respective age-related profiles.

METHODS:

We searched PubMed and ScienceDirect, including 2015, for cadaveric studies and transverse and longitudinal studies of the general population reporting the incidence/prevalence of rotator cuff disorders or nontraumatic shoulder pain, or both, according to age. The review process followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Results were interpreted visually.

RESULTS:

We found 6 cadaveric studies, 2 studies from the general population reporting complete tears, and 10 articles on nontraumatic shoulder pain in the general population that met our criteria. The profiles of degeneration vs. pain were very similar in early years. Although degenerative rotators cuff lesions increased gradually after 50 years, the incidence/prevalence of nontraumatic shoulder pain decreased after 65 years.

CONCLUSION:

The profile of age-related degenerative rotator cuff disorders fails to correlate systematically with self-reported nontraumatic shoulder pain, particularly in older age; thus, it appears that degeneration should not be considered the primary source of the pain. Physical activity may play an important role in the production of the pain, a theory that warrants further study.

KEYWORDS:

Rotator cuff; age; cadaver; degeneration; prevalence; shoulder pain; systematic review

PMID:
28089260
DOI:
10.1016/j.jse.2016.09.060
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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