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Is Physical Therapy after Rotator Cuff Surgery Cost Effective?

The shoulder is an inherently unstable joint. This is the tradeoff for having all the mobility it affords. Shoulder injuries are in the top 5 of injuries that a patient will pursue surgery to repair. It is widely believed that physical therapy (PT) is not as necessary if surgery is performed, however, this is hardly the truth. Physical therapy is the science and art of enabling the body to heal without foreign infiltration. This is not new information, yet so many people continue to be uninformed about how PT can help an injury recover and in many cases without surgery. Nevertheless, the research is not well defined when it comes to many factors in PT. For example, a recent study surveying more than 3000 members of the American Orthopedic Society for sports medicine showed that all agreed PT should be started within 2 weeks after Rotator cuff surgery (1).

The study also showed that there was very high disagreement about when to start passive range of motion (PROM). Part of the reason for this confusion is there are only a handful of high-quality studies that discuss a clearly defined rehab protocol and its effectiveness. One of the questions asked from well-educated patients is the cost-effectiveness of rehab compared to surgery and rehab. A recent study by Dickinson et al (2017) found only 5 studies discussing postoperative outcomes in patients comparing supervised therapy to unsupervised therapy (2). So before you rush off to surgery, schedule an assessment at Therapy SPOT – Bellaire to find out if you really need that surgery you have assumed is inevitable.

1.Mollison S, Shin JJ, Glogau A, Beavis RC. Postoperative Rehabilitation After Rotator Cuff Repair: A Web-Based Survey of AANA and AOSSM Members. Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine. 2017;5(1):2325967116684775. doi:10.1177/2325967116684775.

2. Dickinson, Rebecca N. et al. A systematic review of the cost-effective treatment of postoperative rotator cuff repairs. Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery. 2017;0:0

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