A new study links low levels of sex hormones to tears in the shoulder’s rotator cuff.
Researchers found that testosterone levels in men, and estrogen levels in women, were both associated with the injury. They learned that men with low testosterone were 89 percent more likely to have a tear in their rotator cuff than those with normal levels. In women, the odds of a rotator cuff tear were 48 percent higher in those with low estrogen.
Low testosterone and estrogen can both lead to weak bones and osteoporosis. When bones get weaker, it compromises tendon-bone attachments, where rotator cuff tears occur.
Further, testosterone, for example, is an anabolic steroid which builds muscle. When muscle builds, tendons are also built to compensate for the increased force on the joint caused by the muscle.
It may be that when testosterone is low, the tendons no longer receive the signal, and the attachment may weaken. This may also mean that sex hormone deficiencies may slow healing and lead to rotator cuff tears.
The researchers pointed out that their findings were observational and cannot prove that low levels of testosterone (in men) or estrogen (in women) will cause tears.
These findings are important to note because they indicate a potential risk of low sex hormones, which are conditions that can be treated.
If you know you’ve taken a blood test and seen declining levels, it’s possible that increasing them may affect your risk for a torn rotator cuff.
This injury can have a significant impact on ability and independence.
The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint, keeping your upper arm bone in the socket of the shoulder joint. When one of the tendons is torn, it is no longer fully attached and can lead to pain and impaired function.
Tears are a common injury that can typically be treated with physical therapy and over-the-counter pain medication. The injury may be prevented with exercise and a healthy diet. Surgery may be required for severe cases.