Background: Altered scapular motion is thought to be one of the factors associated with the development of symptomatic rotator cuff tears. However, the differences in kinematics and muscle activities of scapular upward/downward rotation between patients with symptomatic and asymptomatic tears are unclear. The purpose of this study was to compare the differences in kinematics and muscle activities of scapular rotation among patients with symptomatic and asymptomatic tears, and healthy individuals. Methods: Twenty-three patients with rotator cuff tears and 9 healthy individuals (healthy group) participated in this study. Based on a visual analog scale (VAS, 0-100 mm), the patients were divided into symptomatic (13 patients; VAS ≥20 mm) and asymptomatic (10 patients; VAS <20 mm) groups. Scapular upward rotation was measured with a digital inclinometer. Elasticities of the upper trapezius, levator scapulae, and rhomboid major were assessed by using ultrasound real-time tissue elastography to quantify their muscle activities. All measurements were performed at 0°, 60°, 90°, and 120° of active arm elevation in the scapular plane. Results: Scapular upward rotation was significantly less in the symptomatic group (9.4° ± 5.6°) compared with the asymptomatic group (15.7° ± 6.0°; P =.022) at 90° of arm elevation. The activity of the levator scapulae was significantly higher in the symptomatic group compared with the asymptomatic and healthy groups (P =.013 and P =.005, respectively) at 90° of arm elevation. The activity of the upper trapezius was significantly higher in the symptomatic group compared with the healthy group (P =.015) at 120° of arm elevation. Conclusion: Patients with symptomatic rotator cuff tears showed less scapular upward rotation and higher activity of the levator scapulae at 90° of arm elevation compared to patients with asymptomatic rotator cuff tears.
ASJC Scopus subject areas