The term arthritis literally means inflammation of a joint. It is generally used to describe any condition in which there is damage to the cartilage. Damage of the cartilage in the shoulder joint causes shoulder arthritis.
In an arthritic shoulder:
- The cartilage lining is thinner than normal or completely absent. The degree of cartilage damage and inflammation varies with the type and stage of arthritis
- The capsule of the arthritic shoulder is swollen
- The joint space is narrowed and irregular in outline, which can be seen in an X-ray image.
- Bone spurs or excessive bone can also build up around the edges of the joint
Doctors diagnose arthritis with a medical history, a physical examination and X-rays of the shoulder. Computed tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans are also performed to diagnose arthritis.
Your doctor may recommend anti-inflammatory medicines and occupational therapy or physiotherapy. In severe cases, surgery may be suggested. The type of surgery will depend on your age and severity of the disease. Common surgery for treatment of shoulder arthritis may be total shoulder arthroplasty (replacement of the damaged joint).
Shoulder joint replacement is a surgical procedure performed to replace the damaged shoulder joint with artificial joint parts. There are two types of total shoulder replacement, a conventional shoulder replacement and a reverse shoulder replacement.
Conventional total shoulder arthroplasty is a shoulder replacement surgery for patients who suffer from osteoarthritis but have intact rotator cuff. A conventional prosthesis mimics the normal anatomy of the shoulder. The surgery involves replacing the round part of the joint with a metal ball and resurfacing the socket with a plastic cup. The aim of the surgery is to restore function to the shoulder joint by removing the damaged cartilage and bone.