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Rotator Cuff Tears: Are They All in the Family?
Date:5/1/2009

New study finds that family history data supports heredity's role in shoulder tendon tears

ROSEMONT, Ill., May 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- 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
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SOURCE The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery
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