Do You Really Need Shoulder Surgery?

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019

We have never met a patient in 20 years that looked forward to surgery. Some new research coming out on shoulder surgery should make them smile though.

It’s important to note that the shoulder is one of the most complicated joints in the body. It is also the weakest of the major joints. We can move our shoulders in all different kinds of directions but that freedom of motion comes with a price. That price is pain and overall instability. It can be very easy to injure a shoulder.

Historically, when a shoulder gets injured, shoulder surgery is almost a given eventually. Instability will lead to altered function which leads to uneven wear and tear…..and on and on. You get the point.

New research is turning this idea upside down. The new paper is called “What happens to patients when we do not repair their cuff tears? Five-year rotator cuff quality-of-life index outcomes following nonoperative treatment of patients with full-thickness rotator cuff tears(Boorman RS 2018).” It is authored by RS Boorman, KD More, RM Hollinshead, et al. and published in Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery in March of 2018.

At 5 or more years follow-up, approximately 75% of patients remained successfully treated with nonoperative means. Those patients had a quality of life score of 83 out of 100.

Between years 2 and 5, only 3 patients thought to have a successful outcome regressed and had surgery. The operative and the nonoperative groups at the 5-year follow-up were not significantly different.

The authors concluded, “Nonoperative treatment is an effective and lasting option for many patients with a chronic, full-thickness rotator cuff tear. While some clinicians may argue that nonoperative treatment delays inevitable surgical repair, our study shows that patients can do very well over time.”

This means that there is a very real chance, 75% as a matter of fact, that you can injure your shoulder and suffer a full-thickness tear of the rotator cuff and STILL be able to rehab the shoulder and STILL lead a very happy and productive life without having to endure surgery and recovery.

That’s exciting news for all of us!

We are well-versed in helping our patients rehab just about the entire musculoskeletal system. This is helping more and more of our patients right here in Amarillo, TX avoid surgeries and lead productive, happy lives.

Call us at 806-355-3000 if you think we can do the same for you, your friend, or family!