PurposeDegenerative long head of biceps tendon (LHBT) has been recognized as a notable pain source in patients with rotator cuff tear (RCT). Tenotomy or tenodesis of LHBT is frequently indicated together with arthroscopic rotator cuff repair (ARCR) aiming for complete pain relief; however, it has not been fully investigated whether resected LHBT is really a source of pain. The purpose of this study was to investigate expression levels of pain-associated mediators in LHBT and its association with preoperative pain profiles.MethodsTwenty-seven RCT patients who underwent ARCR with LHBT resection were included. Each LHBT was resected due to its abnormal arthroscopic findings including tenosynovitis, hypertrophy, and partial tear. Worst macroscopic lesion of the LHBT was obtained, and expression levels of substance P (SP) and nerve growth factor (NGF) were evaluated using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Ten healthy knee flexor tendons were analyzed as non-degenerative samples. Preoperatively, subjective shoulder pain VAS and pain duration were investigated. Conventional LHBT pain provocation tests (Speed, Yergason, O’Brien) were performed. Pressure pain threshold (PPT) of bilateral LHBT on the groove was recorded.ResultsLevels of SP and NGF expression were significantly higher compared with non-degenerative tendons (P<0.01). Shoulder pain VAS and pain duration were not directly associated with SP and NGF expression level. Patients with positive O’Brien test expressed greater SP than negative patients (P=0.001). Significant negative correlation between the PPT ratio (ipsilateral/contralateral) and SP expression level was observed (r=−0.453, P=0.034).ConclusionGreater expression of SP and NGF in degenerative LHBT supported our hypothesis that it would be a pain source in RCT patients. SP was likely to be expressed highly in patients with localized pressure pain hypersensitivity and positive O’Brien test (ie, altered mechanistic pain profile of LHBT), which may help when considering simultaneous LHBT resection during ARCR.Clinical RegistrationUMIN000023943.

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