Shoulder pain is a common orthopedic problem that affects many adults at some point in their lives. The shoulder is a ball and socket joint, making it prone to wear and tear as we age. Common causes of shoulder pain include osteoarthritis, rotator cuff injuries, fractures, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory disorders, and osteonecrosis. The first sign of an issue is typically pain, followed by weakness and difficulty using the shoulder.
There are several misconceptions about the causes of shoulder pain. Overuse or certain occupations are not necessarily more prone to rotator cuff issues. Rotator cuff tears can develop as part of the normal aging process and may be asymptomatic. It’s important to pay attention to proper training techniques and avoid overloading the joint.
When a patient presents with shoulder pain, non-operative management is typically discussed first. This may include over-the-counter medications, topical rubs, and at-home exercises. If the pain persists, steroid or corticosteroid injections may be recommended. Newer types of injections, such as platelet-rich plasma (PRP), can also be effective in certain scenarios.
If shoulder replacement surgery is necessary, there are three options: anatomic total shoulder replacement, reverse total shoulder replacement, and partial shoulder replacement. Arthroscopic surgeries are minimally invasive and result in less bleeding and scarring.
Looking to the future, advancements in surgical technology and minimally invasive approaches offer the potential for preservation-type procedures rather than replacements. Researchers are exploring ways to reverse wear or preserve worn-out joints without replacement.
Pre-surgical care is crucial for all replacement surgeries to decrease complications. Patients should expect thorough discussions about the procedure, post-operative care, and rehabilitation.
– Dr. Matthew Reish, SUN Orthopaedics of Evangelical
– Dr. Chris Grandizio, Geisinger