One of the most common complaints by patients with rotator cuff tears (RTC) is sleep disturbance. It is commonly believed that surgery will improve this problem, however, it is unclear how many patients truly report improved sleep following RTC surgery. Physical therapy (PT) is becoming more popular to treat RTC tears even amongst higher level athletes. The decision to have surgery can often come down to the short-term benefits of surgery including improved sleep.
Questionnaires are often used to identify the level of pain or dysfunction, and the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) is a 9 question instrument that has been found to be reliable and valid to assess a person’s quality of sleep. A score of 5 or greater is indicative of poor sleep quality. The Journal of Sports Medicine published a study by Horneff et al this year showing that 59% of patients who have RTC repair surgery report improved sleep quality at 3 months is maintained at 6 months and 2 years. The caveat is that these patients continued to report sleep disturbance over a 5 and many continued to use narcotics due to their pain.