Positive Effects of Rotator Cuff Surgery in Recreational Senior Athletes over 70: New Research From Colorado Shoulder Specialist Peter Millett, MD, MSc

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Dr. Millett’s study found that arthrocopic rotator cuff surgery is highly effective at reducing pain, improving function and restoring sports activity in patients 70 years and older.

Colorado Shoulder Specialist Peter Millett, M.D., M.Sc

Patients don't want to live with pain or disability anymore, and now we know that surgery can benefit them so they don’t have to.

Colorado shoulder specialist Peter Millet MD, MSc recently published an article in the American Journal of Sports Medicine on “Two-Year Outcomes After Arthroscopic in Recreational Athletes Older Than 70 Years.” Prior to this study the outcome of rotator cuff repairs in recreational senior athletes over 70 years old was not widely known or studied. The purpose of this study was to see if arthroscopic rotator cuff repair of full-thickness rotator cuff tears in aging recreational athletes could help them eliminate pain, restore function, and return to sports activities.

The rotator cuff is made up of four tendons, which attach the humerus to the scapula (shoulder blade) and help to lift and rotate the arm. The rotator cuff tendons originate from four muscles on the scapula and come together to form a ‘cuff’, which covers the head of the humerus. Rotator cuff tears commonly occur from trauma and overuse and increase with age.

With the baby boomer generation, senior individuals have shown an increasing desire to remain physically active. These expectations often warrant surgical treatment of rotator cuff tears in this population. “Patients don't want to live with pain or disability anymore, and now we know that surgery can benefit them so they don’t have to,“ reports Dr. Millett.

In this study, Dr Millett evaluated recreational senior athletes who were 70 years or older with full-thickness supraspinatus rotator cuff tears whom he treated with rotator cuff surgery. There were 44 patients (49 shoulders) with a mean age of 73 years old. All underwent arthroscopic rotator cuff repair.

All outcome scores significantly improved after arthroscopic rotator cuff repair surgery, when compared with preoperative values. Mean postoperative American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons scores were 90.3, which is essentially back to normal levels. Satisfaction with outcomes of surgery at the time of final follow-up was also very high, with a median of 10 out of 10 (10 being extremely satisfied). 75% of patients were able to return to sports as well.

This study found that arthroscopic rotator cuff surgery in active, recreational senior athletes ages 70 years or older resulted in decreased pain, improved function, and a high rate of return to recreational activities. “This is an important study because it shows that age is not a reason to deny patients rotator cuff surgery. Active older individuals can benefit significantly from arthroscopic rotator cuff repair eliminating pain, restoring function, and allowing them to resume active lifestyles and get back to the sports they love,” said Dr. Millett.

About Dr. Millett

Colorado shoulder specialist Dr. Peter Millett is the Director of Shoulder Surgery at The Steadman Clinic. He has focused his research on rotator cuff repair, shoulder osteoarthritis, shoulder replacement and shoulder instability. Through his research and dedication to orthopedics, Dr. Millett continues to be recognized internationally as one of the best orthopedic surgeons in the United States. The Steadman Clinic and Steadman Philippon Research Institute serve as a National Medical Center for the USA Olympic Team, proudly treating our Olympic athletes and the athlete in all of us.

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Kristin Mapstone
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