Natural History of Degenerative Rotator Cuff Tears

Jason L. Codding, Jay D. Keener

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Purpose of Review: In the past several years, there have been significant advances in our understanding of the natural history of rotator cuff disease. Studies have continued to provide valuable insight into the clinical, radiographic, and anatomic features of these atraumatic tears. Our purpose is to summarize the findings and contributions from these recent high-quality studies. Recent Findings: Current research has continued to describe and provide understanding into the natural history of atraumatic rotator cuff disease, including symptom progression, tear enlargement, and the development of arthritis. This knowledge has allowed identification of tears with higher risk of disease progression. Additionally, studies have investigated, with long-term healing data, whether the natural history of degenerative rotator cuff tears can be altered with surgical intervention. Summary: Recent studies have shown encouraging mid to long-term healing data and clinical outcome scores for smaller tears in younger patients with minimal fatty infiltration. Future research should focus on obtaining long-term healing data, functional outcome data, and refining surgical indications for rotator cuff repair. Identifying patients with specific tear characteristics amendable to healing will allow us to provide a long-term, durable repair, thus interrupting the natural history of degenerative rotator cuff disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-85
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Reviews in Musculoskeletal Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018


  • Atraumatic
  • Degenerative
  • Natural history
  • Recent literature
  • Rotator cuff


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