I am a 57 year old male who plays a lot of recreational softball, two to three nights a week including practice. I recently found out that I have to have rotator cuff surgery to repair a torn tendon. What are the chances I will be able to return to recreational softball?


Rotator cuff pathology is probably the best known shoulder joint injury, particularly in athletes involved in throwing sports, swimming or racquet sports, and can vary from tendinitis to a full thickness tear. Aging is associated with an increase in rotator cuff tears, both partial and full thickness. Smaller tears are often successfully treated with arthroscopic debridement, but this procedure is not as successful for full thickness tears thus leading to surgical repair of the tear. Research indicates that the return to sport rate for older adults after rotator cuff surgical repair is quite favorable. While only a 32 percent return to prior competitive level of sport was found in professional pitchers, a study looking at older athletes found that all recreational pitchers, mean age of 59, were able to return to prior level of pitching after surgery. They rated themselves at 92 per cent of their original function. It is important to understand with this data that the level of sport that the recreational pitchers were returning to was significantly lower than that of professional pitchers, thus making return to prior level of sport much more feasible after surgery.