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Some of the most common repetitive stress injuries that people suffer involve the rotator cuff, a group of muscles and tendons in the shoulder. Rotator cuff injuries can result from aging and natural wear and tear, but many such injuries also occur because of overexertion and repetitive stress trauma in the workplace.

Treatment for rotator cuff injuries often involves surgery. But the failure rate for surgeries is a staggeringly high 94% for older patients with large injuries. These patients may have no other choice but to seek other ways to manage the constant pain and chronic disability that rotator cuff injuries can cause.

Now, new research offers possible hope. Scientists at Washington University in St. Louis, working under a grant from the National Institute of Health, are seeking ways to improve the outcome of rotator cuff surgeries. They are focusing on the natural tendon-bone attachment, which they believe could lead to the engineering of new tissues that could help repair rotator cuff injuries.

In a typical rotator cuff repair surgery involving a large tear, surgeons remove transitional tissue at the injury site and attach the tendon to the bone. However, it is difficult to replicate the natural attachment system of the bone to the tendon, creating a high risk of a repeat injury during the healing process. The researchers will focus on the challenges that surgeons face in attaching the bone to the tendon and what can be done to help the healing process without risking repeat injury.

Repetitive stress-related rotator cuff injuries often occur when workers use their shoulder muscles repetitively and consistently over a long period of time without any break. Workers whose jobs require them to frequently lift their arms above their heads or reach up for objects may be at risk for such injuries. This may include workers involved in decorating, carpentry and related occupations. House painters whose jobs require them to lift their arms frequently may have a higher risk of shoulder injuries.

Training is critical in helping to prevent repetitive stress injuries at work. Workers can learn to perform tasks without placing excessive strain on a specific set of muscles. Machinery that lets workers perform tasks without excessive physical labor and frequent rest breaks can also help prevent these injuries.

Source: Medical Express