Predictors of Return to Work Following Primary Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair: An Analysis of 1502 Cases

Predictors of Return to Work Following Primary Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair: An Analysis of 1502 Cases

Background:

It is undetermined which factors predict return to work after arthroscopic rotator cuff repair.

Purpose:

To identify which factors predicted return to work at any level and return to preinjury levels of work 6 months after arthroscopic rotator cuff repair.

Study Design:

Case-control study; Level of evidence, 3.

Methods:

Multiple logistic regression analysis of prospectively collected descriptive, preinjury, preoperative, and intraoperative data from 1502 consecutive primary arthroscopic rotator cuff repairs, performed by a single surgeon, was performed to identify independent predictors of return to work at 6 months postoperatively.

Results:

Six months after arthroscopic rotator cuff repair, 76% of patients had returned to work, and 40% had returned to preinjury levels of work. Return to work at 6 months was likely if patients were still working after their injuries but before surgery (Wald statistic [W] = 55, P < .0001), were stronger in internal rotation preoperatively (W = 8, P = .004), had full-thickness tears (W = 9, P = .002), and were female (W = 5, P = .030). Patients who continued working postinjury but presurgery were 1.6 times more likely to return to work at any level at 6 months compared to patients who were not working (P < .0001). Patients who had a less strenuous preinjury level of work (W = 173, P < .0001), worked at a mild to moderate level post injury but presurgery, had greater preoperative behind-the-back lift-off strength (W = 8, P = .004), and had less preoperative passive external rotation range of motion (W = 5, P = .034) were more likely to return to preinjury levels of work at 6 months postoperatively. Specifically, patients who worked at a mild to moderate level postinjury but presurgery were 2.5 times more likely to return to work than patients who were not working, or who were working strenuously postinjury but presurgery (p < 0.0001). Patients who nominated their preinjury level of work as “light” were 11 times more likely to return to preinjury levels of work at 6 months compared to those who nominated it as “strenuous” (P < .0001).

Conclusion:

Six months after rotator cuff repair, patients who continued to work after injury but presurgery were the most likely to return to work at any level, and patients who had less strenuous preinjury levels of work were the most likely to return to their preinjury levels of work. Greater preoperative subscapularis strength independently predicted return to work at any level and to preinjury levels.