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Shoulder Arthritis

What is Shoulder Arthritis?

Your shoulder is a ball and socket-type joint made up of two main parts: the humerus (arm bone, which is the ball) and glenoid (socket). This is known as the gleno-humeral joint.

In simple terms, arthritis is inflammation of a joint. When arthritis affects the shoulder, it can cause the lining of these joint surfaces to wear, causing pain and stiffness.

Arthritis usually results from gradual wear and tear of the cartilage in the shoulder, but can be made worse or more painful following an injury to the joint.

Your specialist will conduct a physical examination, and likely request an imaging scan such as an x-ray or MRI to help diagnose shoulder arthritis.

Depending on the grade of arthritis, different treatment options can be considered.

Surgery is often recommended for people with shoulder arthritis mainly affecting the shoulder joint when other alternative conservative treatments to help with pain and movement such as painkillers, injections, exercise and physiotherapy have failed. Those with osteoarthritis or early arthritis may also be suitable for biological joint injections, prior to considering surgery.

During a shoulder replacement, the joint surfaces are replaced. There are mainly three types of shoulder replacement:

Total Anatomic Shoulder Replacement – the head of humerus is replaced with an artificial metal head and the glenoid with a plastic surface.

Reverse Shoulder Replacement – both surfaces are replaced but the relationship between the ball and the socket are reversed (the ball becomes the socket and the socket becomes the ball).

Shoulder Resurfacing – the head of the humerus is replaced with a metal surface.

Following shoulder replacement surgery, you will be reviewed regularly by your surgeon and you will follow a rehabilitation program for 3 months to a year. Your arm will be resting in a sling for two to six weeks, and you will not be able to fully use your arm for normal daily activities during this period. 

Depending on the nature of your employment, you may be signed off from working for six weeks.

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