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Shoulder & Elbow

An epidemiological study of rotator cuff pathology using The Health Improvement Network database

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Little is known about the incidence of rotator cuff pathology or its demographic associations in the general population. We undertook a large epidemiological study of rotator cuff pathology in the United Kingdom using The Health Improvement Network (THIN) database. The incidence of rotator cuff pathology was 87 per 100 000 person-years. It was more common in women than in men (90 cases per 100 000 person-years in women and 83 per 100 000 person-years in men; p < 0.001). The highest incidence of 198 per 100 000 person-years was found in those aged between 55 and 59 years. The regional distribution of incidence demonstrated an even spread across 13 UK health authorities except Wales, where the incidence was significantly higher (122 per 100 000 person-years; p < 0.001). The lowest socioeconomic group had the highest incidence (98 per 100 000 person-years). The incidence has risen fourfold since 1987 and as of 2006 shows no signs of plateauing.

This study represents the largest general population study of rotator cuff pathology reported to date. The results obtained provide an enhanced appreciation of the epidemiology of rotator cuff pathology and may help to direct future upper limb orthopaedic services.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2014;96-B:350–3.

Correspondence should be sent to Mr J. J. E. White; e-mail:

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