The exact cause of osteoarthritis is generally unknown however there are a number of factors that bring about the ‘wear and tear’ of osteoarthritis. The factors that contribute to wear and tear include history of injury, inflammatory conditions (such as Rheumatoid arthritis), family history and shoulder overuse, especially people who carry out a lot of overhead activities such as weightlifters and racquet sport players. Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition found throughout the body. The patient’s own immune system attacks the joints causing widespread inflammation and damage to the surface of the joint.
Osteoarthritis is ‘wear and tear’ degeneration of the joints. It results when the smooth bearing surface (cartilage) that allows the joint to move smoothly is damaged. This layer is worn away to expose the bone beneath. This can be likened to a set of car brake pads wearing away to expose the bare metal plate beneath the brake liner. The bones on either side of the joint rub against each other and change shape. This results in pain and stiffness.
Osteoarthritis of the shoulder occurs less frequently. However, it can cause severe pain and greatly affect a patient’s capacity to carry out even simple tasks due to the symptoms.
Shoulder arthritis may be treated by taking simple conservative measures. These include taking pain killers. A course of physiotherapy may be helpful. Applying heat pads may relieve the pain temporarily.
Should simple measures not work, then a shoulder replacement may be required. There are a number of different types that can be used depending on the type and extent of the arthritis. The most appropriate type used will be discussed with you before surgery is undertaken.
Below is a brief summary of the different types:
Total Shoulder Replacement:
Reverse Geometry Total Shoulder Replacement: