International Orthopaedics

, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 229–235 | Cite as

The effects of rotator cuff tear on shoulder proprioception

  • Stefano Gumina
  • Filippo Camerota
  • Claudia Celletti
  • Teresa Venditto
  • Vittorio CandelaEmail author
Original Paper



To evaluate the effects of rotator cuff tear (RCT) and its severity on shoulder proprioception.


We studied 132 consecutive patients (67 M-65 F; mean age ± SD, 66.03 ± 9.04; range, 43–78) who underwent arthroscopic rotator cuff repair. Tear size was determined intra-operatively. The control group included 82 subjects (38 M-44 F; mean age ± SD, 65.87 ± 8.06; range, 41–75) with no RCT. All participants, wearing an eye mask, were submitted to the evaluation of the joint position sense (JPS) at 30°, 60°, 90°, 120°, and 150° of shoulder forward flexion during the sitting position, using a digital inclinometer securely attached to the subject’s arm using hook-and-loop straps. The passive placement and active replacement method was used; the order of the tested angles was randomly selected. The entire test was repeated three times. The error score, by averaging the three trials, was measured as the absolute difference between the target angle and the observed angle. Statistics were performed.


The intraclass correlation coefficient for all degrees of flexion movement measured was > 0.90, exhibiting a very high correlation. We found significant differences between cases and controls regarding the results of joint position sense error at all measurements (p < 0.05). According to RCT size, we found significant differences between groups at 30° (F = 27.27, p < 0.001), 90° (F = 5.37, p = 0.006), 120° (F = 10.76, p < 0.001), and 150° (F = 30.93, p < 0.001) of shoulder flexion; in details, patients with massive RCT showed greater absolute error value than those with both small and large RCT at 30°, 90°, 120°, and 150° of shoulder flexion (p < 0.05).


RCT provokes an alteration of shoulder proprioception, evaluated as the loss of joint position sense, and the impairment is related to tear severity.


Shoulder proprioception Joint position sense Rotator cuff tear and proprioception Passive/active method for joint position sense Massive rotator cuff tear and shoulder proprioception 


Compliance with ethical standards

All participants signed an informed consent form in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki. According to the law of our country, this study does not need any ethics committee approval.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© SICOT aisbl 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anatomy, Histology, Legal Medicine and OrthopedicsSapienza, University of Rome- Shoulder and Elbow Surgery Unit, Polo Pontino (ICOT)LatinaItaly
  2. 2.Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation DivisionUmberto I University Hospital of RomeRomeItaly

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