Tennis is a noncontact sport playable at an individual’s own pace. Thus, it is popular among the older adults. It is known that older adults often suffer from rotator cuff tears (RCTs), which may affect tennis activity. However, the prevalence and influence of RCTs on tennis play among older players are not well-known. This study aimed to evaluate the prevalence of RCTs in older tennis players and its impact on physical findings and shoulder function.
A cross-sectional study.
Fifty-three tennis players (mean age: 70.7 y; range: 60-83 y) participating in a recreational-level tennis tournament were examined in this study. An ultrasonographic examination of both shoulders was performed to detect RCTs. Relationships between RCTs of the dominant shoulder and clinical findings, shoulder pain, and shoulder function including range of motion, shoulder strength, and Single Assessment Numeric Evaluation score, and Disability of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand-Sports Module score were assessed.
RCTs were detected in 19 (36%) dominant shoulders and 6 (11%) nondominant shoulders. Asymptomatic RCTs were detected in 11 (58%) dominant shoulders and 5 (83%) nondominant shoulders. Increased crepitus and more positive results in the empty can test, and infraspinatus test were observed in the dominant shoulders with RCTs than in those without; however, there was no difference in shoulder pain, range of motion; strength; Single Assessment Numeric Evaluation score; and Disability of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand-Sports Module score between the players with and without RCTs.
One-third of the older tennis players in this study had RCTs in the dominant shoulder with some positive physical sign of an RCT. However, shoulder pain and shoulder function did not differ between the players with and without RCTs, suggesting that RCTs had a minor impact on the tennis performance in the participants of this study.