Rotator cuff pain--in the family?

Sure, KT Tape has given you relief from that painful shoulder injury, but as you recover, it's also important to understand all the factors that go into such an injury. According to a Medical News Today article and a study posted in May 2009 from the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (JBJS), there are family genes being linked to shoulder rotator cuff injuries. If you have relatives who have an injured rotator cuff, the chances are likely that you might experience the same problem. Robert Z. Tashjian, MD, associate professor of orthopaedic surgery, at the University of Utah School of Medicine Orthopaedic Center in Salt Lake City, states this study "strongly suggests genetic predisposition as a possible cause for rotator cuff disease. While we have not determined the exact genetic component. Our family history data supports that heredity plays a role in the development of rotator cuff tearing." With most problems arising in people in their 50's or 60's, environment and mechanical influences also play a part in shoulder injury. Other theories include:
  • Decreased blood flow leading to tendon dysfunction and tearing
  • Bumping (impingement) of the rotator cuff on the under-surface 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-related degeneration
Not only finding that shoulder injuries might be genetic, Dr. Tashjian is now looking into collecting blood samples  of patients with rotator cuff tears to find the exact genetic compound relating to this type of injury. Knowing this information can be helpful for medical providers and shoulder sufferers to pay attention to their family history. If shoulder injuries are common throughout their family history then steps to shoulder injury prevention can be taken. Also, orthopaedic surgeons can begin shoulder stretching and strengthening program for high risk patients. With more research and understanding  of this unfortunate injury, hopefully athletes can better prepare, stretch and strengthen shoulders to avoid and evade genetics.