The rotator cuff surgery went well, but is everything back to normal? A new study suggests that despite having successful shoulder surgery, shoulder motion may be not be what it used to be.
The study involved 14 participants, average age 63, who had arthroscopic rotator cuff repair surgery on one shoulder, while the other shoulder was intact. The rotator cuff is made up of four tendons that connect the humerus, the bone in the upper arm, to the shoulder blade. Repetitive movements -- think volleyball, tennis and pitching -- can cause wear and tear on that area and may ultimately require surgery.
Movement in both shoulders was analyzed at three, 12 and 24 months post-surgery via a biplane x-ray system that allows bones and joints to be measured precisely during motion. Shoulder strength was also noted.
Researchers found that while the surgery may bring back normal shoulder strength, it may not fully restore motion.
"We found that the motion pattern of the repaired shoulder is significantly different than the patient's opposite shoulder," said Michael Bey, via a news release. Bey presented the study recently at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons in New Orleans and is the director of the Herrick Davis Motion Analysis Lab at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. He added, "These differences in shoulder motion seem to persist over time in some patients."
Photo: Repetitive movements by volleyball players can cause wear and tear on rotator cuffs. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times