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April 1975

Rotator Cuff Tears in Rheumatoid Arthritis

Author Affiliations

From the departments of medicine (Drs. Weiss and Thompson) and radiology (Drs. Doust and Burgener), Wayne County General Hospital, Eloise, Mich, and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich. Dr. Burgener is now with the Strong Memorial Hospital, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY.

Arch Intern Med. 1975;135(4):521-525. doi:10.1001/archinte.1975.00330040033005

Rotator cuff tear secondary to chronic synovitis eroding the rotator cuff tendon is a complication of rheumatoid arthritis that has received little attention. Patients with such tears have a long history of active rheumatoid disease preceding the sudden onset of increased unilateral shoulder pain and immobility. The physician may interpret this change as indicating a joint infection or rheumatoid flare, and initiate a drastic change in the patient's therapy. Shoulder arthrography reveals the correct diagnosis. Appropriate treatment consists of heat, rest, range of motion exercises, and repeated intra-articular injection of steroids.