Shoulder arthritis is a painful condition that typically affects individuals age 50 and older. For older adults with this condition, it is often caused by a gradual deterioration in the cartilage inside the shoulder joint. This can result in pain, friction and reduced function because the bones in the joint have less cushion between them. However, shoulder arthritis can occur in younger individuals as well. Injury, infections, chronic inflammatory conditions and congenital diseases are some of the causes of arthritis in earlier age.
Diagnosis of shoulder arthritis begins with a physical exam to identify any pain, tenderness or loss of motion in the shoulder. Methods such as X-rays, blood tests and MRI scans may also be used to diagnose arthritis and rule out other possible causes of the symptoms being experienced.
After receiving a diagnosis for shoulder arthritis, it’s best to begin with conservative treatments to reduce pain and restore function. Lifestyle changes, rest, medications, physical therapy and cortisone injections are some of the nonsurgical treatments that can be used, and in many instances they will provide sufficient relief. For more severe cases, surgery may be recommended.
The two main types of surgery used to treat shoulder arthritis are:
- Total shoulder arthroscopy – This is a total shoulder replacement. The cartilage on the ends of the upper arm bone and the shoulder blade socket will be replaced with a ball-and-socket prosthesis that allows the arm bone to glide smoothly in the joint.
- Hemiarthroplasty – In instances where there’s damage to the “ball” part of the end of the upper arm bone but the “socket” in the shoulder blade is in good condition, your doctor may feel that replacement of the “ball” is all that’s needed. A prosthesis will be installed at the end of the arm bone that will fit within the natural cartilage in the shoulder socket.
If shoulder arthritis is holding you back from living an active life, schedule an appointment with Dr. Ira Guttentag at Florida Medical Orthopaedics, Sports Medicine & Spine to discuss the treatment options that are available. Dr. Guttentag specializes in treating the shoulder and is eager to help you overcome any limitations you’re experiencing due to shoulder arthritis.