More Than Just Physical Shoulder Strain?

A study conducted at the University of Utah School of Medicine has linked risk factors for heart disease with an increased likelihood of shoulder problems including joint pain and rotator cuff injury. The findings add to the existing body of evidence suggesting that factors other than repeated physical stress and exertion may be involved in the irritation of joints, muscles, and tendons. Prior research has already linked risk factors for heart disease to conditions including carpal tunnel syndrome, Achilles tendinitis, tennis elbow, and other musculoskeletal issues. The findings are published in Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

The current study concludes that the likelihood of shoulder trouble is positively associated with the number of risk factors for heart disease that patients present with. These factors include high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and diabetes. Data from 1,226 participants found that the 36 individuals with the highest collection of risk factors for heart disease were 4.6 times more likely to have had shoulder joint pain and 6 times as likely to have rotator cuff tendinopathy as those with no risk factors. Participants with some of the risk factors were 1.5 and 3 times as likely as the risk-free cohort to have experienced these shoulder issues. Lead author Kurt Hegmann, MD, PhD, observed, “If someone has rotator cuff problems, it could be a sign that there is something else going on. They may need to manage risk factors for heart disease.”

Read a news story about the discovery, with link to the journal article, here.

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