As a physical therapist, you deal with a wide variety of different patients on a regular basis. It’s essential to be able to treat each patient according to their specific situation and condition. One question that has come up recently with regards to patients with shoulder injuries is:
Does smoking play a role in how my rotator cuff tear patients heals?
According to a recent study involving 24 patients with medium-size rotator cuff tears, the answer is yes.
The gene and protein expression patterns in the rotator cuff muscles of 12 heavy smokers and 12 non-smokers were analyzed, to find that heavy smokers showed high levels of inflammation in the shoulder. The non-smokers had less inflammation, as well as smaller fat infiltration. The fat accumulation and fibrogenesis in the rotator cuff muscles of the smokers was surprisingly large. These symptoms are associated with the increased expression of HMGB1, PPARγ, and α-SMA, respectively.
The results of the study outlined several negative effects that smoking has on rotator cuff tears, especially in patients who smoke over 20 packs a year, which non-smokers will not experience. These differences are important for physical therapists to keep in mind, as they treat both smoking and non-smoking patients.
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