Pain does not correlate with rotator cuff tear severity
Pain is a symptom commonly used as indicator for surgery in atraumatic rotator cuff tears. Nevertheless, the association between symptoms and rotator cuff tear severity is not as clear as in other atraumatic orthopaedic conditions such as osteoarthritis. This study employed a transversal design to investigate whether a correlation between pain level and rotator cuff tear severity exists.
393 patients ranging from 18 to 100 years old with the MRI finding of a full-thickness atraumatic rotator cuff tear were included, completed several patient-reported outcome measures and underwent an extensive physical and imaging examination procedure. No association was present between pain reported by patients and anatomic measures of rotator cuff tear severity – increased pain levels did have an association with an increased number of comorbidities, race and a lower education level.
Moreover, weakness or loss of function may be a more accurate indicator for rotator cuff surgery than pain in patients with atraumatic rotator cuff tears. Limitations of this study include the transversal design, potential sources of bias, such as selection and performance bias, and overall generalizability.
> From: Dunn et al., J Bone Joint Surg Am 96 (2014) 793-800. All rights reserved to Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc.. Click here for the Pubmed summary.