Good news for those living with shoulder arthritis

Good news for those living with shoulder arthritis

Living with arthritis of the shoulder can be very difficult. Not only is it painful, it can severely limit independence.

A patient’s ability to care for themselves and perform simple daily tasks often relies on pain-free shoulder strength and range of motion. This expected shoulder function is a luxury many people no longer have. As an orthopedic surgeon specializing in shoulder reconstruction, I see arthritis of the shoulder every day in my clinic in Lincolnshire, Ill. Many people are unaware of the multiple treatment options for shoulder arthritis.

As with many orthopedic disorders, non-operative treatment should be the first step. Anti-inflammatories, activity modification and physical therapy may be considered. When conservative treatment fails, the surgical discussions should begin.

Historically, the concept of shoulder replacement has been thought to be extremely painful and with variable results. As an Advocate Medical Group orthopedic surgeon performing shoulder replacements for more than 15 years, I have seen a notable change in the way we approach patients and counsel them as we consider surgical options.

Many of the poor results in shoulder replacement came from dysfunction or even absence of the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff is important in the success of a shoulder replacement. Unfortunately, many people suffer not only from arthritis of the shoulder, but also from a rotator cuff deficiency. In the past, these patients experienced poor outcomes.

Today, we readily use an implant called a reverse shoulder replacement. I explain to my patients that we completely “reverse” the anatomic location of the ball and socket of the shoulder joint to allow for improved shoulder function (see image of implant). Other muscles then substitute for the rotator cuff. Not only does this offer excellent pain relief, it provides far better function than we have seen with more traditional shoulder replacements.

Many people have been told their arthritis is too advanced to perform shoulder replacement. Newer technology allows us to take a pre-operative CT scan and map the exact anatomy of a patient’s shoulder. 3-D imaging now allows the manufacturer to produce a life-sized model of the patient’s socket along with a customized guide to be used during surgery. This allows us to target the best location for the implant to maximize outcome.

Shoulder replacement surgery is no longer something to fear. While not indicated for every patient, reverse shoulder replacement offers greatly improved pain relief and function when done for the proper indications. Living with limited range of motion of the shoulder due to pain and arthritis often results in unacceptable daily limitations. It is worth consulting with an orthopedic surgeon who regularly performs these operations to see if you are a candidate.

Dr. Mark Neault is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon with Advocate Medical Group (AMG) Orthopedics at Advocate Condell Medical Center. His practice specializes in sports medicine and disorders of the shoulder. He is currently accepting new patients in his Lincolnshire office. For more information about reverse total shoulder replacement surgery or to speak to Dr. Neault make an appointment or call (847) 634-1766.

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Dr. Mark Neault

Mark Neault, M.D. is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon with Advocate Medical Group (AMG) Orthopedics at Advocate Condell Medical Center. His practice specializes in sports medicine and disorders of the shoulder. He is currently accepting new patients in his Lincolnshire office. For more information about reverse total shoulder replacement surgery or to speak to Dr. Neault call (847) 634-1766.

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