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Shoulder Pain: Causes and Treatments

What Causes Shoulder Joint Pain?

One of the most common causes of joint pain is arthritis. The most common types of arthritis are:

Osteoarthritis (OA)

Osteoarthritis is a form of degenerative arthritis that involves the breakdown of cartilage. When joint-cartilage, a protective tissue found at the joint surface, wears away when bones rub against one another, which might cause discomfort. Generally, OA occurs when there is a family history or in people over the age of 50.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

When someone is diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, there is a chemical change in the synovial membrane that causes them to become thickened and inflamed. Due to the changes in the synovial membrane, too much synovial fluid is produced. The symptoms of RA include chronic inflammation, cartilage loss, pain, and stiffness. In general, RA affects three times more women than men*, and it might affect other organs, including the skin and heart.**



Post-traumatic Arthritis

If an injury occurs in a joint, post-traumatic arthritis might develop. This means the cartilage and bone in or near your joint might not heal properly. Due to the injury, the joint is no longer smooth and additional joint damage and wear might occur.

Having an Orthopedic Evaluation

Though most orthopaedic evaluation will be different, most orthopaedic surgeons will use the same basic tests to understand their patients current conditions, including:

  • A review of the patient's medical history
  • A physical examination
  • X-rays
  • If necessary, additional testing might be necessary

Treatment Options

Based upon your orthopedic evaluation, your treatment options might include:

  • Medication
  • Physical therapy
  • Joint fluid supplements
  • Joint replacement


Shoulder Joint Replacement Surgery

Depending on the condition of your shoulder, the artificial joint in your shoulder might require two or three parts.

  • A metal component implanted in the humerus
  • A metal part to replace the humeral head
  • A plastic part to cover the surface of the glenoid socket.

The shoulder joint replacement procedure includes two parts:

  1. A Partial Shoulder Joint Replacement: When the glenoid socket is still intact and does not need to be replaced. During the surgery, the metal humeral component implanted and the humeral head component is placed.
  2. A Total Shoulder Joint Replacement: When the full glenoid socket must be replaced. In this case, all three shoulder joint components will be used during this surgery.

How Long Will an Artificial Shoulder Joint Last?

The durability of your replaced shoulder joint depends on several factors, including age, level of physical activity, the strength of your bones, and the progression of the disease in your bones and joints. Additionally, one common issue that affects replaced joints is loosening, which might cause a loss of bone, and additional surgery might be needed.


Shoulder Joint Replacement (Continued)

Possible Complications of Surgery

Though the complication rate is very low, severe complications have occurred in less than two percent of patients. With any major surgery, patients who undergo total joint replacement surgery might face complications, including:

  • Infection
  • Blood Clots
  • Lung Congestion

After the Surgery

After the surgery, your physician will let you know what precautions should be taken to help your shoulder heal properly. The first step might include rehabilitation and physical therapy. Physical therapy will help your shoulder return to full strength.

After a full recovery has been made, it is important to care for your shoulder to avoid further issues. You can return to your normal daily activities, however; you should try to avoid some forms of physical activity that will put pressure on your shoulder, including:

  • Heavy lifting
  • Using excessive arm force (example: hammering)
  • Boxing and other high-intensity activities

Your shoulder joint replacement will be successful only if you follow advice from your physician. Failure to follow advice will result in further injuries.

To learn more about your shoulder, review the following American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Links:

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