Rotator Cuff Injuries in Professional and Recreational Athletes


Professional and recreational athletes involved in contact sports and sports with repetitive overhead motion are at increased risk for rotator cuff tears. Shoulder anatomy, pathology, and biomechanics place unique stress on the rotator cuff tendons during sports activity. Athletes demand effective treatment to quickly return to elite competition. A PubMed search assessed treatment options providing expedited recovery time and return to competition. Twelve of 231 articles fit the objective criteria; 90.5% of professional contact athletes, 40% of professional overhead athletes, and 83.3% of recreational athletes fully recovered following rotator cuff tear surgical repair. Prompt surgical treatment for full-thickness rotator cuff tears may be appropriate for contact athletes and recreational overhead athletes. Although professional overhead athletes have low recovery rates, surgical repair of full-thickness rotator cuff tears may still be indicated. The authors propose a treatment algorithm based on the limited literature (mainly level 4 and 5 evidence). (Journal of Surgical Orthopaedic Advances 22(2):134–142, 2013)

Johannes F. Plate, MD; Patrick Haubruck, BS; Jordan Walters, BS; Sandeep
Mannava, MD, PhD; Beth P. Smith, PhD; Thomas L. Smith, PhD; and Christopher
J. Tuohy, MD