Disclosures: Haunschild reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.
April 08, 2021
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More than 35% of workers with rotator cuff tears do not return to previous work level

Disclosures: Haunschild reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.
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According to published results, greater than 35% of patients who undergo rotator cuff repair are unable to return to their previous work level after the procedure.

Investigators at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush University Medical Center performed a systematic review to analyze return to work (RTW) outcomes of 1,224 patients (mean age of 52.2 years) who underwent rotator cuff repair.

Haunschild graphic
Despite “significant improvements” in shoulder pain and functional outcomes at final follow-up, many patients were unable to return to their previous level of work. Data were derived from Haunschild ED, et al. Am J Sports Med. 2021;doi:10.1177/0363546520975426.

Overall, researchers found 62.3% of patients (n = 762) returned to their previous level of work at a mean of 8.15 months after surgery, while the remaining 37.7% of patients (n = 462) were unable to return to their previous level of work.

Researchers noted that all patients demonstrated “significant improvements” in shoulder pain and functional outcomes at final follow-up compared with baseline measures. Additionally, no differences were found between patients who underwent an open and arthroscopic repair technique and between workers’ compensation and non-workers’ compensation cohorts, according to the study.

However, random effects modeling did reveal a discrepancy in RTW rates for work of varying intensities. Patients returning to light work had a 94% RTW rate, while patients returning to moderate and heavy work had RTW rates of 75% and 63%, respectively.

“These conclusions support those previously reported in individual investigations and can aid in the counseling of injured workers with rotator cuff tears,” the researchers wrote in the study.