Just like any other joint in the body, the shoulder can get arthritis. Like most other joints in the body that become arthritic, arthroplasty or joint replacement is an option for patients who have failed other nonoperative treatments.
The shoulder is one of the most complex joints in the body due to its wide range of motion, delicate rotator cuff muscles, small and relatively flat glenoid (socket) and the complex bone anatomy and mobility of the scapula (shoulder blade). It is absolutely crucial to see a fellowship-trained, high volume, shoulder specialist when seeking operative or nonoperative treatment.
Non-surgical treatment begins with fine-tuning the diagnosis. While arthritis is usually apparent on simple x-ray, there is a lot more information that is needed to appropriately treat the pain. We need to know what caused the arthritis, whether the rotator cuff is injured, is there any nerve entrapment, is osteonecrosis at play, etc. Once the appropriate physical exam and diagnostic imaging has been performed and the individual patient’s needs and activity level assessed, nonsurgical management can be safely implemented in many cases. Common nonoperative treatments include specialized physical therapy, NSAIDs, steroid shots, PRP, and stem cells.
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If nonoperative treatment fails, surgical management with arthroplasty will relieve pain and restore function in 95% of cases. In order to achieve these results, a shoulder replacement specialist is paramount, in order to choose the appropriate implant, surgical approach and computer guidance.
Some of the techniques used at Gulf orthopaedics and typical patient types include:
- Arthroscopy – In some cases of shoulder arthritis, a minimally invasive arthroscopy (shoulder scope) can be performed to remove bone spurs, lengthen the joint capsule, perform biceps and labral treatments that solve the pain.
- Total Shoulder Arthroplasty – resurface the ball and socket of the shoulder when the rotator cuff and other soft tissues are healthy. Outpatient shoulder replacement is an option.
- Reverse Shoulder Arthroplasty – for patients who can’t lift their arm because the rotator cuff is not functioning. Put simply, the technique involves putting the ball where the cup was and the cup where the ball. This allows the deltoid muscle to lift the arm and compensate for the nonfunctioning rotator cuff.
- Bone-sparing Shoulder Arthroplasty – for younger patients with arthritis or osteonecrosis and allows more extreme work and sports activities after surgery.
- 3-D printing and custom guides – In any case where the bone deformity is significant or the bone anatomy unusual, a CT can be used to plan out the surgery in three-dimensional imaging, choose appropriate implants and 3D print custom guides to be used in surgery. In some cases, the actual shoulder replacement implants can be 3D printed to accommodate special needs.
Your Shoulder Replacement procedure will be performed at one of Gulf Orthopaedics surgery center locations: Gulf Orthopaedics at Hillcrest, Gulf Orthopaedics at Infirmary, Gulf Orthopaedics at Saraland, Springhill Medical Center, Springhill Outpatient Surgery Center (GCSP), Mobile Infirmary Hospital, and University Hospital.