Physical therapy may reduce the need for surgery in patients with rotator cuff tears

CHICAGO — Results presented at the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons Annual Meeting showed most patients with symptomatic atraumatic full-thickness rotator cuff tears treated with an evidence-based rehabilitation program did not undergo subsequent surgery. John E. Kuhn, MD, MS, and colleagues followed 433 patients with atraumatic full-thickness rotator cuff tears for 5 years. Patients provided data via questionnaires on demographics, symptom characteristics, comorbidities, willingness to undergo surgery and patient-related outcome assessments. Patients participated in a physical therapy program created by the researchers, returning for evaluation at 6 and 12 weeks. At evaluation, researchers had patients choose between three options: cured, with no formal follow-up scheduled; improved, after which therapy was continued with scheduled reassessment in 6 weeks; or no better, and surgery was offered.


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