I went to the shoulder doctor for a torn rotator cuff. They had me fill out all sorts of papers asking lots of questions. Do I have this problem? Do I have that problem? What's with all the questions? Why do they want to know all this for a shoulder injury?

Research shows patients with other health problems often have more shoulder pain and less function. Overall, they rate their health as lower compared to patients without these extra problems. When a patient has two or more health problems at the same time, they are said to have comorbidities.

It's important for the doctor to have a complete medical history. Past and current problems must be considered when planning an operation. The patient is often at increased risk for poor outcome after surgery when other illness and diseases are present. The doctor who is prepared can help patients avoid these additional problems.