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Glenohumeral Arthritis

There are two joints in the shoulder and both may be affected by arthritis. The Acromioclavicular (AC) joint is where the clavicle meets the tip of the shoulder blade (acromion). The Glenohumeral joint is where the head of the humerus fits into the scapula.

Glenohumeral Arthritis is caused by the destruction of cartilage covering the bones in the glenohumeral joint. This causes bone-on-bone friction affecting the smooth movement of the shoulder. Glenohumeral Arthritis is most commonly seen in people over 50 years. It is estimated that it affects 20% of older population.

Symptoms of Shoulder Arthritis

The most common symptom of any Shoulder Arthritis is pain. Other symptoms include tenderness in the shoulder, limited range of motion, weakness. Patients will have trouble doing everyday activities particularly reaching overhead,

Causes of Glenohumeral Arthritis

    • Osteoarthritis
    • Rheumatoid Arthritis
    • Wear and Tear
    • Trauma
    • Infection
    • Osteonecrosis
    • Rotator Cuff Tears
    • Repetitive strain and overuse of shoulder
    • Excessive use of steroid medication
Glenohumeral Arthritis

Diagnosis of Glenohumeral Arthritis

Glenohumeral Arthritis is diagnosed by using a combination of patient history, physical examination and X-Rays. In some cases, CT scan or MRI scan or ultrasonography will be done.

Shoulder Arthritis Treatment:

Different treatment options work best for different patients. As with other shoulder conditions, the course of treatment starts with standard non-operative method which includes the following:

    • Rest
    • Warm or cold compress
    • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSADs)
    • Physical Therapy
    • Steroid Injections (in cases where it is needed)

Most patients with mild Glenohumeral Arthritis, experience reduced pain and improvement in the shoulder functions within 4-6 weeks following conservative non-surgical treatment.

Surgery for Shoulder Osteoarthritis

Only if the non-surgical treatment options do not give the desired results, Surgical treatments are offered:

Various options of surgery are available depending on the severity and location of the arthritis. Most common type of surgery is Shoulder Arthroscopy where loose pieces of damaged cartilages are removed. In some cases, Shoulder Osteotomy is preferred. This is done to shave off osteophytes and reduce friction between the bones.

In cases of severe arthritis, where the patient’s rotator cuffs are functioning – shoulder replacement is recommended

In cases of severe arthritis, where the patient’s rotator cuffs are not functioning – reverse total shoulder replacement is recommended.

In cases where the arthritis is isolated humeral head, often hemiarthroplasty or partial shoulder replacement is recommended.

Post-operative Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation program will vary based on the severity of the condition and the treatment option chosen. The aim is to restore range of motion, strength and function. Recovery time after the surgery depends on the complexity of the procedure. In general it includes the following:

    • Soon after the surgery, patients are placed into a sling.
    • Certain activities are prohibited for certain duration
    • Physical Therapy is prescribed

In Shoulder Replacement surgeries , recovery can require 3 to 6 months of intensive physical therapy.

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