Rates of Return to Manual Labor After Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair

Clare K. Green*, John P. Scanaliato, John C. Dunn, Rachel S. Rosner, Nata Parnes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Rotator cuff tears represent a significant cause of shoulder pain and dysfunction in the United States. The development of these injuries is associated with older patient age and higher levels of physical activity; however, data regarding the rate of return to work after arthroscopic rotator cuff repair in patients older than 50 years of age who have physically strenuous jobs is inconclusive. Purpose/Hypothesis: The purpose of this study was to report short term outcomes and return to work rates after arthroscopic rotator cuff repair in a cohort of patients aged 50 to 60 years working in manual labor jobs. It was hypothesized that arthroscopic rotator cuff repair would result in good functional outcomes for these patients and allow for return to work rates in excess of 80%. Study Design: Case series; Level of evidence, 4. Methods: Preoperative and final evaluations including the pain visual analog scale (VAS), the Single Assessment Numeric Evaluation (SANE), and the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons (ASES) Shoulder Score were collected. A total of 73 patients were screened for inclusion. Nineteen patients were outside of the inclusion age range, 2 underwent exclusionary concomitant procedures, and 4 patients were lost to follow up, leaving a total of 48 patients with a mean follow up of 34.02 months (range, 24-67 months) available for analysis. None of the patients were involved in a workers’ compensation claim. Subgroup analysis was performed to determine if arm dominance or tear size affected surgical outcomes or return to work rates. Results: After arthroscopic rotator cuff repair, 43 of 48 patients (89.6%) were able to return to manual labor positions. Tears were classified using the Southern California Orthopaedic Institute Classification at the time of repair as massive (C4) in 9 patients (18.75%), large (C3) in 13 patients (27.08%), medium (C2) in 21 patients (43.75%), and small (C1) in 5 patients (10.42%). At latest follow up, the mean VAS decreased from 8.0 ± 1.81 to 0.46 ± 1.20, the average SANE increased from 47.50 ± 18.59 to 91.88 ± 12.30, and the average ASES score improved from 39.58 ± 10.71 to 93.44 ± 11.97 (P <.0001). Outcomes did not differ between patients who underwent surgery on their dominant shoulder and those who underwent surgery on their nondominant shoulder. The overall postoperative complication rate was 8.33%. Conclusion: Arthroscopic rotator cuff repair portended favorable outcomes and high rates of return to work in this cohort of manual laborers, with 89.6% of patients able to return to work.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2227-2233
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jul 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • arthroscopic rotator cuff repair
  • manual labor
  • return to work
  • rotator cuff tear


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