Shoulder osteoarthritis - Dr. Michael Lehmann
Causes of shoulder osteoarthritis
As we age, or after injuries such as fractures to the humeral head, osteoarthritis of the shoulder joint can develop. Untreated tears in the rotator cuff can also lead to osteoarthritis. With shoulder osteoarthritis, there is excessive wear of the cartilage lining the joint until it is completely worn away, resulting in some cases in marked joint deformities.
Symptoms of shoulder osteoarthritis
Typical symptoms of shoulder osteoarthritis include considerable pain with increasing restriction of movement which, in extreme cases, can cause extensive stiffening of the joint. Sufferers find their mobility severely restricted and find that their everyday activities are made much more difficult. Added to this is pain at night, as well as pain at rest.
What can be done for shoulder osteoarthritis?
Early or only slightly advanced shoulder osteoarthritis can generally be treated with arthroscopy. This means that, nowadays, an artificial joint replacement can be avoided or at least delayed. Arthroscopic treatment is based on two basic principles:
1. Reduction of inflammation: Anything that maintains the inflammatory process is removed gently from the shoulder joint via the arthroscopic procedure, such as loose bodies or unstable seams of cartilage
2. Stimulation of new tissue formation: To stimulate the formation of new tissue in the shoulder joint, the dead superficial layer of the bone, which is no longer covered with cartilage, must be removed using specialist instruments. This process, known as ACRA (articular cartilage regrowth arthroplasty), exposes the bone's blood supply and creates conditions in which regrowth of the replacement cartilage can occur.
3. Arthroscopic treatment optimises the chances of success for subsequent conservative treatment. This treatment includes physiotherapy, hyaluronic acid injections and chondro-protective dietary supplements.
Shoulder joint prostheses now represent an extremely beneficial alternative in cases of advanced shoulder osteoarthritis. Performed in selected centres, they often improve patients' quality of life considerably.
The inpatient stay is generally 5 days, frequently followed by a rehabilitation stay lasting around 3 weeks.