Shoulder Arthritis Symptoms and Treatment (Q&A)


My name is Uma Srikumaran. I’m an orthopedic surgeon with Johns Hopkins and Howard County General Hospital. I specialize in shoulder surgery. Shoulder arthritis refers to degeneration of the
lining of the joint. The lining of the joint is made of smooth cartilage that
can wear out over time or can be diseased by inflammatory conditions such as
rheumatoid arthritis or from a traumatic condition or post-traumatic arthritis
after a shoulder dislocation. The typical wear and tear arthritis is
called osteoarthritis. Pain is the most common symptom of shoulder arthritis. Pain can occur throughout the day and worsen with certain activities.
Clicking and catching may also be noticed coming from the shoulder. As arthritis
progresses the pain and stiffness will progress as well. Non-surgical treatment for shoulder arthritis
includes simple measures such as rest and activity modifications or avoiding
activities that are painful for your shoulder. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory
medications can also be beneficial for pain relief. Other options include icing, physical
therapy and cortisone injections that may also provide symptomatic relief. When non-surgical treatments fail to
provide pain relief over a period of time or the pain becomes unbearable,
surgical shoulder replacement surgery is an option. The goals of shoulder replacement surgery are pain relief as well as improved function so you may resume everyday
activities. The surgery is performed under general
anesthesia often with a nerve block and involves an open incision in front of
your shoulder. The arthritic bone is carefully removed
along with scar tissue and a metal prosthesis and a plastic component are inserted to
recreate the ball and socket joint of the shoulder. Recovery after shoulder replacement surgery involves a one to two day hospital admission. After this, an outpatient physical
therapy program is performed usually beginning at two weeks after
surgery and extending for several months. During this period patients are provided
pain medications. Physical therapy will progress over
several months. At first the therapist will guide the patient on passive range of
motion exercises followed by active range of motion exercises in which the patient
performs themselves. After a range of motion has been restored, strengthening exercises
can begin.

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