Friday, November 4, 2011

Total shoulder joint replacement and rotator cuff tears

There is a phenomenon we're seeing more frequently: rotator cuff tear after a successful total shoulder arthroplasty.
It is important to recall that arthritis and cuff tears occur in the same age group. When we do a shoulder joint replacement, we restore smooth and comfortable motion to a joint that has been 'on the shelf' for a while, years to decades. The restoration of motion and comfort to a previously stiff and painful shoulder suddenly requires the rotator cuff, weakened by disuse, to start working again. Under these circumstances, the cuff tendons are at risk for failure, especially if they are put to heavy use abruptly. The risk of cuff failure can be minimized by gradually increasing the use of the arm over the 6 months after surgery. This gives the cuff tendons a chance to rehabilitate and regain their strength.


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