What You Should Know About Shoulder Arthritis and Shoulder Replacement Surgery

For injuries and treatment related to shoulder replacement and shoulder arthritis, there’s just not a lot of education out there about it.

Patients will say to us, “What do you mean you could do a shoulder replacement?”

People hear about hip replacements and knee replacements, but they don’t know that shoulder replacement is available too.

Shoulder Paint and Shoulder Arthritis

Shoulder arthritis is one of the main reasons for people to have shoulder pain.

Many patients that come in with saying that their shoulder hurts think that it must be related to their rotator cuff, or that they must have shoulder bursitis, or shoulder tendonitis.

Patients also come in with loss of motion in their shoulder and they feel popping, clicking, and pain. Shoulder pain patients are often unaware that they actually have shoulder arthritis. With any type of arthritis, like in any joint, there’s a loss of the healthy cartilage.

How the Shoulder Works

The shoulder is a ball and a socket joint just like how the hip is a ball and a socket but, the shoulder is actually not as bony.

For example, the structure of the shoulder is different, the cup is not as deep and the ball is not sitting in the cup as deep. The shoulder is more like a golf ball on a golf tee.


When I was younger I used to pop my shoulder out all the time, and then it stopped popping out, then it started to get sore, and now I can’t move it.


Who Is At Risk for Shoulder Arthritis

People at risk for developing shoulder arthritis may have experienced:

  • Micro motion in the shoulder, i.e. sheering forces
  • A prior shoulder injury
  • Really heavy weight lifting.

Prior Shoulder Injuries

Patients with shoulder pain coming into the office commonly say something like, “When I was younger I used to pop my shoulder out all the time, and then it stopped popping out, then it started to get sore, and now I can’t move it.”

When you have these chronic injuries where you’re shearing and rubbing the cartilage in and out of the shoulder, it wears away faster.

If you have instability or motion of the shoulder that’s not normal, it will cause a post-traumatic type arthritis and it will wear out the shoulder sooner.

It’s very common that if you had a lot of shoulder issues in your youth in playing sports, that later on, you will develop arthritis on your shoulder.

Conservative Shoulder Treatment First

We try physical therapy first but if you have a lot of arthritis in your shoulder where there’s actually extra bone that’s grown (osteophytes, also known as bone spurs) and you really are bone on bone, physical therapy sometimes makes the problem worse.

One thing we like to do to treat shoulder arthritis is trying corticosteroid injections and anti inflammatories. However, the unfortunate reality is that if you have very bad shoulder arthritis where you are now articulating bone on bone, when you don’t have any cartilage (the smooth structure that aids motion), then you’ll end up in a lot of pain and lose a lot of function.


Shoulder replacement is a very successful surgery. Most patients will feel relief in their shoulder pain within six weeks of their surgery and have increased function.


About Shoulder Replacement Surgery

There’s no minimally invasive surgery that’s available for shoulder arthritis. We can’t just go in and clean or, scrape out the arthritis. That doesn’t really help the shoulder.

The only way to help the shoulder pain is with a resurfacing type of procedure, which we call the shoulder replacement.

What we do is actually replace the ball part of the ball and socket with a metal ball. Then we make a plastic cup. The cup is not a deep cup but it’s more of a like what I mentioned earlier; a head of a golf tee that kind of sticks into the cup part of the shoulder which is a nice smooth surface for that metal ball to move on.

Success and Satisfaction

Shoulder replacement is a very successful surgery. Most patients will feel relief in their shoulder pain within six weeks of their surgery and have increased function.

The techniques for doing shoulder replacement are so good that we can get patients out of the hospital sometimes the same day. And the majority of times the next day after surgery.

There’s a very high satisfaction rate with shoulder replacement. Higher than knee replacement. The unfortunate thing is that there’s just a lot of patients who don’t know about or haven’t heard of shoulder replacement. They don’t know it exists. But it’s definitely a great option out there for people with shoulder pain and a diagnosis of shoulder arthritis

Don’t Play or Work Through the Shoulder Pain

You don’t want to just play or work through the pain because you might end up doing more damage.

Contact us to schedule an appointment to talk to us about your shoulder pain.

 

Dr. Michael Gott is a Westchester orthopedic surgeon who is fellowship trained in sports medicine. He has also been an active member of the National Ski Patrol as well as a Member of the Windham Mountain Ski Patrol for 18 years.