Pattern and time phase of shoulder function and power recovery after arthroscopic rotator cuff repair.

Authors: Hughes A, Even T, Narvani AA, Atoun E, Van Tongel A, Sforza G, Levy O.

References: J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2012 Oct;21(10):1299-303.

It has been our observation that early during rehabilitation after rotator cuff repair, patients may take a step back before improving. The purpose of this study is to investigate the pattern and time phase of changes in Constant score and strength recovery after arthroscopic rotator cuff repair.

Forty-five patients undergoing arthroscopic rotator cuff repair were prospectively enrolled in this study. Patients underwent scoring preoperatively with the Constant score. All were followed up at 3 months and 6 months after surgery. The Constant score and strength at 3 months were compared with those at the 6-month mark.

The mean Constant score improved from 46.4 points (SD, 17.3) preoperatively to 51.8 points (SD, 13.5) 3 months postoperatively (P = .0777). At 6 months postoperatively, the mean Constant score was 69.0 points (SD, 11.1), a significant increase from both the preoperative (P < .0001) and 3-month (P < .0001) results. The mean preoperative strength result of 4.5 kg (SD, 3.2) decreased significantly to 3.3 kg (SD, 1.8) at 3 months postoperatively (P = .0154) before improving to 5.8 kg (SD, 2.6) at 6 months postoperatively. The improvement in strength at 6 months was significant compared with both the preoperative (P = .0070) and 3-month (P < .0001) results.

Although there is highly significant improvement in overall function (Constant score) and strength 6 months postoperatively, patients appear to take a step back before improving, in fact with a drop in strength at 3 months. This may cause concern in patients and may require assurance that time and effort with physiotherapy will improve function and symptoms.


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