Don't Let Shoulder Arthritis Slow You Down

Shoulder arthritis can be terribly disabling to those who have the condition. The pain, stiffness and loss of function make day-to-day activities very stressful. Typically, people over 50 are most susceptible to the condition. The good news is that there are non-surgical options for improving strength, range of motion and decreasing shoulder pain.

Shoulder Arthritis Symptoms

The shoulder is a ball and socket joint. The surface of the ball portion of the bone is called the humeral head. Its counterpart is the cup or glenoid. They are both covered with a shiny, smooth surface called cartilage, which acts as padding. These surfaces enable the healthy shoulder to move smoothly through a pain-free range of motion. The healthy shoulder has a much larger range of motion than most joints in the body, allowing people to perform activities in front of them, above their heads, and behind their backs in a pain-free manner.

When the shoulder surface cartilage has worn away, patients experience a loss of motion, pain and sometimes crunching, catching and locking when the shoulder is moved. This loss of motion makes it very difficult to do movements away from one’s body or above one’s head. Reaching behind one’s back is significantly affected, and the pain often causes other problems including difficulty sleeping.

Shoulder Arthritis Treatments

Nonsurgical approaches are recommended as first steps. These include anti-inflammatory medications, cortisone shots and physical therapy designed to optimize shoulder motion and strength. When these treatments no longer work, surgical approaches can help reach the goals of eliminating pain and restoring motion as quickly as possible. Every patient is different, and surgical approaches are tailored to each patient’s specific needs.

Our surgical expertise includes total shoulder replacement, reverse shoulder replacement, shoulder arthroscopy, and cartilage replacement. Shoulder replacement is the typical treatment for most patients with end-stage shoulder arthritis.

The shoulder arthritis surgery involves replacing the worn away humeral head with a metal ball and the glenoid with a plastic cup. The surgery typically takes 60 to 90 minutes, and over 90 percent of our patients return home the following day.

If you have an arthritic shoulder and would like one of our experts to evaluate you, please contact us to learn more about shoulder conditions and treatments or find a shoulder surgeon.