What is the prognosis of rotator cuff injuries?

Updated: Oct 25, 2018
  • Author: Gerard A Malanga, MD; Chief Editor: Craig C Young, MD  more...
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Most athletes with primary outlet impingement without full-thickness rotator cuff tears respond well to nonoperative treatment. Rehabilitation is also effective in the majority of athletes with rotator cuff pathology due to other causes (eg, instability), except when instability is caused by trauma. When surgery is performed for rotator cuff injuries not responding to conservative treatments, results vary depending upon patient age, size and pattern of the tear, degree of retraction, tissue quality, and quality of repair.

One study evaluated 51 patients, aged 60 years or younger, with nonoperatively treated rotator cuff tears and found that full-thickness rotator cuff tears tended to increase in size in about half of the patients. The study suggests that surgery be considered to prevent an increase in size tear, and those treated nonoperatively should be monitored for tear size increase. [36]

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