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Shoulder Replacement

Shoulder Arthritis

Arthritis of the shoulder is a disease that wears away the cartilage between the humeral head and the shoulder socket (glenoid). Secondary to the arthritis, the two bony areas may bone on bone. When this happens, the joint erodes and becomes less functional. The result is pain, stiffness and instability. In some cases, motion of the shoulder may be greatly restricted. There are two main types of arthritis: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in the United States. Osteoarthritis is degenerative and although it most often occurs in patients over the age of 50, it can occur at any age, especially if the joint is in some way damaged.

Osteoarthritis occurs commonly in the large weight-bearing joints of the lower extremities, including the hips and knees, but may affect the spine and upper extremity joints such as the shoulder. Patients with osteoarthritis often develop large bone spurs, or osteophytes, around the joint, that may further limit motion.

Causes of Shoulder Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis of the shoulder is a condition commonly referred to as “wear and tear” arthritis. Although the degenerative process may accelerate in persons with a previous shoulder injury, many cases of osteoarthritis occur when the hip simply wears out. Some experts believe there may be a genetic predisposition in people who develop osteoarthritis of the shoulder. Abnormalities of the shoulder due to previous fractures or childhood disorders may also lead to a degenerative shoulder. Osteoarthritis of the shoulder is the most common cause for total shoulder replacement surgery.


The most common symptom of osteoarthritis is pain in the shoulder during motion activities. People with shoulder pain usually compensate by limiting their use of the shoulder. As a result of the cartilage degeneration, the shoulder loses its flexibility and strength, and may result in the formation of bone spurs. Finally, as the condition worsens, the pain may be present at all times, even during non weight-bearing activities.

Dr. Ortega doctor may recommend various non-surgical therapies prior to a shoulder replacement if needed. An exercise-conditioning program may be instituted to improve the strength and flexibility of the shoulder and the other upper extremity joints. Lifestyle and activity modification may be undertaken in an attempt to minimize the activities that are associated with shoulder pain. Various medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and/or nutritional supplements (Chondroitin/Glucosamine) may reduce pain and inflammation associated arthritis.

If non-surgical treatment is unsuccessful, Dr. Ortega may help you decide that a total shoulder replacement is the best available treatment option.