Cold Therapy Beneficial to Relieve Pain After Rotator Cuff Surgery

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The American Board of Orthopedic Surgeons recently issued its Guidelines for Treatment of Rotator Cuff Problems (reference: AAOS Now, January 2011, Vol 5, No 1). The Board consists of a group of highly regarded orthopedic surgeons and researchers who review the world literature regarding a specific orthopedic problem and make recommendations to orthopedic surgeons based on a conglomeration of the results of these studies. Usually in these consensus statements, many of the tenets of treatment we typically recommend are called into question, as the data to support them can be weak. For example, the board states that the recommendation to perform surgery for a rotator cuff tear in someone who has an older tear (i.e. more than 6 months old) is “weak” – although most orthopedic surgeons would still recommend this procedure for many people.  In all, actually, most of the recommendations from the board were listed as “inconclusive” or “weak”.  However, for the statement “.. local cold therapy is beneficial to relieve pain after rotator cuff surgery”, the Board issued a “consensus” opinion – meaning that it is their recommendation, based on scientific evidence, that cryotherapy significantly helps patients after surgery and should be recommended to patients.  Of the 32 rotator cuff guidelines they reviewed, this was 1 of only 2 that received this strong of a recommendation!  We have numerous cold therapy (cryotherapy) options available to help relieve pain after rotator cuff or other surgery.

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