Comparison of slow and accelerated rehabilitation protocol after arthroscopic rotator cuff repair: pain and functional activity

Acta Orthop Traumatol Turc. 2011;45(1):23-33. doi: 10.3944/AOTT.2011.2386.


Objectives: In this study, we sought to compare the effects of the slow and accelerated protocols on pain and functional activity level after arthroscopic rotator cuff repair.

Methods: The study included 29 patients (3 men, 26 women) who underwent arthroscopic repair of stage 2 and 3 rotator cuff tears. Patients were randomized in two groups: the accelerated protocol group (n=13) and slow protocol group (n=16). Patients in the accelerated protocol group participated in a preoperative rehabilitation program for 4-6 weeks. Patients were evaluated preoperatively and for 24 weeks postoperatively. Pain was assessed by visual analog scale, and functional activity level was assessed by The Disabilities of The Arm Shoulder and Hand (DASH) questionnaire. The active range of motion was initiated at week 3 after surgery for the accelerated rehabilitation protocol and at week 6 for the slow protocol. The rehabilitation program was completed by the 8th week with the accelerated protocol and by the 22nd week with the slow protocol.

Results: There was no significant difference between the slow and accelerated protocols with regard to pain at rest (p>0.05). However, the accelerated protocol was associated with less pain during activity at weeks 5 and 16, and with less pain at night during week 5 (p<0.05). The accelerated protocol was superior to the slow protocol in terms of functional activity level, as determined by DASH at weeks 8, 12, and 16 after surgery (p<0.05).

Conclusion: The accelerated protocol is recommended to physical therapists during rehabilitation after arthroscopic rotator cuff repair to prevent the negative effects of immobilization and to support rapid reintegration to daily living activities.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arthroscopy / rehabilitation*
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hand Injuries / physiopathology
  • Hand Injuries / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain, Postoperative / physiopathology
  • Pain, Postoperative / rehabilitation*
  • Recovery of Function / physiology*
  • Rotator Cuff / physiopathology
  • Rotator Cuff / surgery
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries*
  • Rupture
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome