Shoulder pain is an extremely common complaint from patients, and there are many common causes of this problem. It is important to make an accurate diagnosis of the cause of your symptoms so that appropriate treatment can be directed at the cause.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of shoulder arthritis. Also called wear-and-tear arthritis or degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis is characterized by progressive wearing away of the cartilage of the joint. As the protective cartilage surface of the joint is worn away by shoulder arthritis, bare bone is exposed within the shoulder.
The other common type of shoulder arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic condition that causes inflammation of the lining of the joints. This inflammation can, over time, invade and destroy the cartilage and bone.
Shoulder arthritis typically affects patients over 50 years of age. It is more common in patients who have a history of prior shoulder injury. There is also a genetic predisposition of this condition, meaning shoulder arthritis tends to run in families.
SYMPTOMS OF SHOULDER ARTHRITIS
Shoulder arthritis symptoms tend to progress as the condition worsens. What is interesting about shoulder arthritis is that symptoms do not always progress steadily with time. Often patients report good months and bad months, or symptom changes associated with weather changes. This is important to understand because comparing the symptoms of arthritis on one particular day may not accurately represent the overall progression of the condition.
The most common symptoms of knee arthritis are:
- Pain with activities
- Limited range of motion
- Stiffness of the knee
- Swelling of the joint
- Tenderness along the joint
- A feeling the joint may “give out”
Evaluation of a patient with shoulder arthritis should begin with a physical examination and x-rays. These can serve as a baseline to evaluate later examinations and determine progression of the condition.
Patients who have tried the usual treatments for shoulder arthritis, but have not been able to find adequate relief, may be a candidate for shoulder replacement surgery. Patients considering the procedure should understand the potential risks of surgery, and understand that the goal of joint replacement is to alleviate pain. Patients generally find improved motion after surgery.
About Surgery (Shoulder Replacement Implants)
The major types of artificial shoulder replacements are: Cemented Prosthesis, Uncemented Prosthesis and Reverse Shoulder Replacment.A cemented prosthesis is held in place by a type of epoxy cement that attaches the metal to the bone. An uncemented prosthesis has a fine mesh of holes on the surface. Bone grows into the mesh. Over time, this anchors the prosthesis to the bone.
Both types of artificial joints are widely used. Your surgeon may also use a combination of the two types. The surgeon determines the type of replacement joint based on your age, your lifestyle, and the surgeon’s experience.
Each prosthesis (artificial joint) is made up of two parts. The humeral component replaces the humeral head, or the ball of the joint. The glenoid component replaces the socket of the shoulder, which is actually part of the scapula.
The humeral component is made of metal. The glenoid component is usually made of two parts. A metal tray attaches directly to the bone, and a plastic cup forms the socket. The plastic is very tough and very slick, much like the articular cartilage it is replacing. In fact, you can ice skate on a sheet of this plastic without causing it much damage.
In reverse shoulder replacement the ball and socket are reversed; the ball is placed on the shoulder blade and the socket is placed on the top of the arm bone. This reverse technique allows better function with there is a non-functioning rotator cuff.
Total shoulder replacement surgery alleviates pain by replacing the damaged bone and cartilage with a metal and plastic implant. The shoulder joint is a ball-and-socket joint, much like the hip joint. The ball is the top of the arm bone (the humerus), and the socket is within the shoulder blade (scapula). This joint allows people an enormous range of motion at the shoulder.
When shoulder replacement surgery is performed, the ball is removed from the top of the humerus and replaced with a metal implant. This is shaped like a half-moon and attached to a stem inserted down the center of the arm bone. The socket portion of the joint is shaved clean and replaced with a plastic socket that is cemented into the scapula.