The Relationship of Aging and Smoking with Rotator Cuff Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Alan Z. Grusky, Ayush Giri, Deirdre O'Hanlon, Nitin B. Jain

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective Despite rotator cuff disease being one of the most common causes of shoulder pain, its pathogenesis and biology are poorly understood. In this study, we synthesized evidence from studies reporting associations for aging and smoking status in relation to rotator cuff disease. Design A systematic review was performed using multiple databases (PubMed, Embase, Cochrane, CINAHL, and Science Direct). Articles that met our eligibility criteria and presented data on the association between aging and/or smoking status and rotator cuff disease were included. We performed meta-analyses and reported cumulative effects using odds ratios and corresponding 95% confidence intervals. Results Of the 212 articles eligible for full-text review, seven studies reported on the relationship between aging and rotator cuff disease, and 10 studies reported on the relationship between smoking and rotator cuff disease. Aging was consistently associated with increased odds of having rotator cuff disease when assessed continuously (per 10-yr increase: odds ratio = 1.20, 95% confidence interval = 1.18-1.21) or categorically (ages <40 yrs vs: [a] 40-44 yrs [odds ratio = 2.71, 95% confidence interval = 1.78-4.13], [b] 45-49 yrs [odds ratio = 4.33, 95% confidence interval = 2.88-6.55], and [c] ≥50 yrs [odds ratio = 6.97, 95% confidence interval = 4.85-10.01]). Assessing studies that reported smoking status as current smokers versus nonsmokers, current smokers were more likely to have rotator cuff disease (odds ratio = 1.94, 95% confidence interval = 1.52-2.48). However, a statistically significant association was not found when never smokers were compared with former smokers (odds ratio = 1.08, 95% confidence interval = 0.97-1.20) and to current smokers (odds ratio = 0.97, 95% confidence interval = 0.87-1.07). Conclusions In this systematic review and meta-analysis, increasing age was a strong risk factor for rotator cuff disease. The finding that current smokers are more likely to have rotator cuff disease as compared with nonsmokers implies that cessation of smoking can potentially lead to mitigation of this risk factor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)331-340
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2022


  • Aging
  • Risk Factor
  • Rotator Cuff Disease
  • Smoking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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