Little consensus has been achieved on conservative treatments in patients with Rotator Cuff Tears (RCTs).


To determine whether anatomical severities of RCTs were poor prognostic factors in conservative treatments.


This study included 102 shoulders with atraumatic RCTs diagnosed by magnetic resonance imaging. Partial-thickness tears were identified in 15 shoulders and full-thickness tears in 87 shoulders. Three patients had a concomitant subscapularis (SSC) tendon tear. All patients were treated conservatively with the administration of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and physical therapy. The visual analog scale (VAS), Constant scores, and active range of motion were evaluated as clinical outcomes. Pearson’s chi-square test and Student’s t test, Mann-Whitney U test, one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA), or Kruskal-Wallis test was performed to compare the participant’s characteristics and clinical data. Treatment effectiveness among the tear size groups and with/without SSC tear groups was assessed using a two-factor repeated measures ANOVA.


Larger tears were associated with less improvement in VAS (p = 0.032). At the initial and final visits, larger tears showed lower constant scores (p = 0.014 and p < 0.001, respectively) and restricted forward elevation (FE) (p = 0.042 and p = 0.013, respectively). Shoulders with SSC tear showed higher VAS, lower constant scores, and lower FE at the final visit (p = 0.002, p = 0.001, and p=0.019, respectively). Patients with SSC tear underwent surgery more frequently than those without tear (p < 0.001).


Larger RCTs and concomitant SSC tear are poor prognostic factors for the conservative treatment of atraumatic RCTs.

Keywords: Rotator cuff tears, Conservative treatment, Tear size, Tear pattern, Shoulder disorder, Anatomical severities.
Fulltext HTML PDF ePub