Archives of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery

, Volume 130, Issue 5, pp 705–710 | Cite as

Altered neuromuscular control of a hand muscle in chronic rotator cuff tears

  • Alexander BerthEmail author
  • Géza Pap
  • Wolfram Neumann
  • Friedemann Awiszus
Basic Science



Previous EMG studies have shown that chronic rotator cuff tears (RCT) may be associated with an altered activation of adjacent shoulder muscles. The effect of RCT on central neuromuscular control mechanisms of hand muscles has as yet not been studied in detail. This study investigated the cortico-motor excitability of the first dorsal interosseus muscle (FDI) in patients with RCT.

Materials and methods

The resting motor threshold (RMT) of the FDI on both sides were obtained from patients with unilateral chronic RCT and compared with healthy control subjects without any shoulder pathologies with transcranial magnetic stimulation. Analysis of variance for repeated measures was performed to detect possible differences in RMT of the FDI in patients and healthy controls.


The RMT of FDI in patients on the affected side was lower when compared to the non-affected side (p = 0.015) and to both sides in control subjects (p = 0.041, F = 4.8).


The reduced RMT of FDI in patients with unilateral RCT may be related to alterations in the sensory output from the shoulder and points toward a complete sensimotor restriction of the involved upper limb. These findings seem to be assigned to adaptive changes in the motor cortex as a consequence of chronic RCT.


Shoulder Rotator cuff tear Transcranial magnetic stimulation First dorsal interosseus muscle 



This research was supported by Deutsche Arthrose Hilfe e.V.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexander Berth
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Géza Pap
    • 2
  • Wolfram Neumann
    • 1
  • Friedemann Awiszus
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Orthopaedic SurgeryOtto-von-Guericke-UniversityMagdeburgGermany
  2. 2.Centre of Orthopaedics and TraumatologyPark-Hospital LeipzigLeipzigGermany
  3. 3.Orthopädische UniversitätsklinikUniversitätsklinikum A. ö. R.MagdeburgGermany

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