Rotator cuff tears: Are they all in the family?

May 01, 2009

People with relatives who have experienced rotator cuff tears are at increased risk of similar tendon tears themselves, according to a study published in the May 2009 issue of The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (JBJS). "This strongly suggests genetic predisposition as a possible cause for rotator cuff disease," said Robert Z. Tashjian, MD, associate professor of orthopaedic surgery, University of Utah School of Medicine Orthopaedic Center in Salt Lake City.

By using the Utah Population Database combined with the University of Utah Health Sciences Data Warehouse numbers, researchers found an increased risk for these tears in family members of patients with rotator cuff tears. The risk extends out and beyond third-cousin relationships (Third cousins are the great-great-grandchildren of one's great-great-grandparents.)

"While we have not determined the exact genetic component," said Dr. Tashjian, "our family history data supports that heredity plays a role in the development of rotator cuff tearing."

This problem usually affects people in their 50s and 60s. It is believed to have both mechanical and environmental influences; however, scientists unclear as to exactly why it occurs, have several theories including:

  • Decreased blood flow leading to tendon dysfunction and tearing
  • Bumping (impingement) of the rotator cuff on the undersurface of the shoulder cap (acromion) when moving the arm
    • This may lead to a slow development of tears due to repetitive micro-trauma over time

  • Age-related degeneration
The potential impact of this research is that it is a springboard for attempting to identify an exact genetic component for this injury. Dr. Tashjian and his colleagues are currently collecting blood samples for of patients with rotator cuff tears, which will be used later for various to determine the exact .

The results of this research have potential long term implications, including:

  • Prevention
  • Knowing about a family history of rotator cuff disease can alert patients to take some precautionary measures to protect against their own injuries
  • Orthopaedic surgeons can initiate a shoulder stretching and strengthening program for patients to help limit the effects of possible future rotator cuff problems

While an exercise program would not completely prevent development of rotator cuff disease, it may limit the negative impact on shoulder function.

The research results can also lead to future treatment options. "Rotator cuff healing is often incomplete and identifying a possible genetic link to the disease may provide targets for biologic treatments to improve the healing rates," noted Dr. Tashjian.

Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (news : web)

Explore further: Radiologist recommendations for chest CT have high clinical yield

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Orthopaedic experts examine overhead

Apr 08, 2009

Baseball season is underway. With the pros, college and high school teams taking to the baseball diamonds and Little Leaguers soon to follow, orthopedic specialists at Rush University Medical Center are cautioning players ...

Simple finger device may help predict future heart attack

Mar 26, 2009

Results of a Mayo Clinic study show that a simple, noninvasive finger sensor test is "highly predictive" of a major cardiac event, such as a heart attack or stroke, for people who are considered at low or moderate risk, according ...

Recommended for you

Obese British man in court fight for surgery

Jul 11, 2011

A British man weighing 22 stone (139 kilograms, 306 pounds) launched a court appeal Monday against a decision to refuse him state-funded obesity surgery because he is not fat enough.

2008 crisis spurred rise in suicides in Europe

Jul 08, 2011

The financial crisis that began to hit Europe in mid-2008 reversed a steady, years-long fall in suicides among people of working age, according to a letter published on Friday by The Lancet.

New food labels dished up to keep Europe healthy

Jul 06, 2011

A groundbreaking deal on compulsory new food labels Wednesday is set to give Europeans clear information on the nutritional and energy content of products, as well as country of origin.

Overweight men have poorer sperm count

Jul 04, 2011

Overweight or obese men, like their female counterparts, have a lower chance of becoming a parent, according to a comparison of sperm quality presented at a European fertility meeting Monday.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.