Elderly May Benefit From Minimally Invasive Shoulder
WEDNESDAY, Sept. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Minimally invasive
arthroscopic surgery to repair torn shoulder muscles in elderly
people can reduce pain and improve function, a new study finds.
Many doctors are reluctant to perform this type of surgery in
older patients because of fears of complications. But the
researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago said their
findings show that seniors shouldn't be excluded from having this
About 20 percent of people older than 65 suffer tears in the
rotator cuff, the group of four muscles and their tendons that form
a "cuff" over the top of the upper arm bone and stabilize the back
of the shoulder joint. These tears can cause considerable pain and
loss of range of motion.
"In people over the age of 70, pain is the main issue, and pain relief is a fairly reliable outcome after surgery," said study leader and orthopedic surgeon Dr. Nikhil Verma. "Patients do not require that their shoulder function be fully restored. They just want the pain to be gone." Verma is assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Rush.
With that requirement, Verma said, "age is not a
contraindication" for the surgery.
This study included 39 patients over age 70 who underwent
surgery to repair rotator cuff tears after pain medication and
other treatments failed to help them. The patients were followed
for two years after their surgery.
Significant pain reduction was reported by 96 percent of
patients, and there were major improvements in shoulder function,
range of arm motion and muscle strength, the study found.
Following the surgery, shoulder function was nearly the same as
what could be expected in a healthy shoulder for people in this age
group, the researchers noted.
The study appears online and in the October print issue of
Arthroscopy: The Journal of Arthroscopic and Related
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) notes that
that the best treatment varies from patient to patient.
Non-surgical alternatives to conventional and arthroscopic rotator
cuff surgery, according to the AAOS, include the use of a sling;
rest and avoiding activities that cause symptoms; anti-inflammatory
medications or steroid injections; and strength-building exercises
and physical therapy.
The AAOS also cautions that -- like any operation -- the surgery
is not without risk. Possible side effects, according to the
academy, include infection, difficulty moving the shoulder after
the operation and a re-tear requiring another surgery.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has more about
rotator cuff tears.
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