Glenohumeral joint loading is impacted by rotator cuff tear severity during functional task performance

Joshua Pataky, Vijitha Seelam, Lyndsay Engle, Sujata Khandare, April D. Armstrong, Meghan E. Vidt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Rotator cuff tear is a common musculoskeletal injury, negatively affecting shoulder function. Rotator cuff tear severity ranges from small to massive tears, but it is unclear how tear severity affects glenohumeral joint loading and how changes contribute to secondary injury. This study's objective was to determine how glenohumeral joint contact force changes with tear severity during functional task performance using computational models. Methods: Eight models of increasing tear severity were developed, ranging from no rotator cuff tear to massive three-tendon tears. Simulations were performed using models representing increasing tear severity and kinematics for five functional tasks (n = 720 simulations). For each task, magnitude and orientation of peak resultant joint contact force for each tear severity was identified, then compared to the no rotator cuff tear model. Findings: For all tasks, compared to the no rotator cuff tear model, joint contact force magnitude decreased 9.5% on average with infraspinatus involvement, then plateaued at 20.8% average decrease with subscapularis involvement. Projected orientation of peak joint contact force vector was located more superior in the glenoid with increased tear severity, with significant changes (p < 0.0003) for all tasks with infraspinatus involvement. Interpretation: Decreased magnitude and superior orientation of joint contact force suggest fewer intact muscles contribute to force distribution across the joint, although more work is needed characterizing associated compensation strategies. All force vectors remained oriented within the glenoid rim for all tasks and models, suggesting the system prioritizes joint stability. This work identifies how joint contact force changes with rotator cuff tear severity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105494
JournalClinical Biomechanics
StatePublished - Dec 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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