Many patients fail to achieve MCID for PROMIS upper extremity and pain interference following nonoperative management of rotator cuff tears

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BACKGROUND: Efficacy of nonoperative treatment for rotator cuff tears has been debated, especially for full-thickness tears. The purpose of this study was to a) define the minimal clinically important difference (MCID) of nonoperative treatment with regard to Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) pain interference (PI) and upper extremity (UE), and b) determine the proportion of patients with both partial and full-thickness tears (PTRCT, FTRCT) who achieve this improvement following initial nonoperative treatment. We hypothesized that >75% of PTRCT and FTRTC patients would achieve MCID for PROMIS PI and UE.

METHODS: We performed a retrospective cohort study evaluating nonoperatively managed patients with image-confirmed PTRCT and FTRCT. Treatment modalities and follow-up PROMIS scores at least 6 months after their initial visit were recorded. Using a distribution technique, MCID was calculated.

RESULTS: A total of 111 FTRCT and 68 PTRCT patients were included with at least 6 months of follow-up. At 6 months from initial presentation, the MCID for PROMIS UE was 3.75 and 3.95 for FTRCT and PTRCT patients, respectively. For PROMIS PI, the MCID was 3.35 and 3.90 for FTRCT and PTRCT, respectively. In total, 41% of FTRCT and 41% of PTRCT achieved MCID for PROMIS UE. Thirty-four percent of FTRCT and 35% of PTRCT achieved MCID for PROMIS PI.

CONCLUSION: The majority of patients undergoing nonoperative treatment for supraspinatus/infraspinatus rotator cuff tears did not achieve MCID at 6 months for PROMIS PI (34% for FTRCT and 35% for PTRCT) or UE (41% for FTRCT and 41% for PTRCT).

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