Our understanding of patients’ desired outcomes and expectations of arthroscopic rotator cuff repair (ARCR) is limited, particularly regarding the importance of pain relief and strength return relative to each other.
We conducted a study of preoperative ratings of the importance of pain relief and strength return after ARCR. Before undergoing surgery, 60 patients completed a shoulder questionnaire on which they assessed severity of symptoms and rated, on a 10-point scale, the importance of postoperative improvements in pain relief and strength return. After surgery, they completed the same questionnaire, again rating the importance of pain relief and strength return.
About 50% of the patients valued pain relief and strength return equally before and after ARCR. Overall, patients significantly emphasized strength return over pain relief, both be- fore surgery, mean (SD), 9.2 (2.1) vs 8.6 (2.3) (P = .02), and afterward, at a follow-up of 5.2 (0.2) years, 8.9 (1.9) vs 8.2 (3.1) (P = .03). The significant preference for strength return held irrespective of sex, age, active sports involvement, preoperative self-assessed pain score, and subjective shoulder weakness. Before surgery, increasing age was associated with a stronger preference for pain relief (r = 0.33, P = .01), and retirees preferred pain relief over strength return.
These results show the patterns of patient preference for pain relief and strength return after ARCR. Improved understanding of these patients’ expectations will allow meaningful changes in patient satisfaction.