Results of nonoperative management of full-thickness tears of the rotator cuff

D. J. Bokor, R. J. Hawkins*, G. H. Huckell, R. L. Angelo, M. S. Schickendantz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

194 Citations (Scopus)


The results of nonoperative management of 53 patients with full-thickness tears of the rotator cuff proven by arthroscopic examination was as follows. Patients were treated with nonsteroidal antiinflammatory medication, stretching, strengthening, and occasional steroid injections. Average age at presentation was 62.2 years. Patients were evaluated at an average of 7.6 years. Forty patients were male, and the dominant limb was involved in 40 cases. Thirty-four patients were reviewed by questionnaire and physical examination, whereas 19 patients were evaluated by telephone interview only. In 40 patients, the onset of symptoms was associated with an injury. In 12 patients, workmen's compensation was involved. At follow-up evaluation, the 34 shoulders that were available for examination were evaluated for pain, range of motion, strength, and function. Thirty-nine of the 53 patients (74%) assessed subjectively had only slight or no shoulder discomfort. Of the 28 shoulders presenting within three months of injury, 24 (86%) were rated as satisfactory at the time of latest evaluation. Of the 16 patients who initially had had shoulder pain for over 6 months, only nine (56%) were rated as satisfactory. Most patients showed improvement with regard to their ability to perform activities of daily living. Average active total elevation was 149° compared with 121° at initial presentation. Thirty-two of the 34 patients examined (94%) had evidence of weakness on muscle testing and 19 (56%) had demonstrable muscle atrophy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-110
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Orthopaedics and Related Research
Publication statusPublished - 1993


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