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Surgeries for Shoulder Osteoarthritis


Osteoarthritis refers to the gradual wear and tear in the cartilage of the body’s joints, such as the shoulders. Shoulder osteoarthritis is a progressive and degenerative disorder that primarily affects the articular cartilage一the protective covering of the joint that allows bones to glide over one another seamlessly.

Generally, doctors treat shoulder arthritis using conservative methods first, such as medications, steroid injections, and physical therapy. But when symptoms persist—or if the damage is too severe—then your surgeon may recommend a surgical procedure.

Read on to learn more about the different surgical techniques used to treat and manage shoulder osteoarthritis.

Shoulder osteotomy

Osteotomy refers to a procedure used to repair different bone problems by cutting the affected bone. It may be used to reshape, realign, lengthen or shorten the bones. In shoulder osteoarthritis, osteotomy involves cutting or removing the arthritic bone to relieve the pressure from the damaged cartilage.

Your doctor can also perform shoulder osteotomy to remove bone spurs or osteophytes. A bone affected by arthritis can sometimes produce bony protrusions in the surrounding joint, thus damaging nearby structures and causing pain.

Shoulder debridement

Shoulder debridement is another surgical technique that involves the removal of loose, damaged cartilage tissues to smooth out the joint area. Its main goal is to decrease the friction between the bones during movement, thus decreasing pain and other symptoms. Doctors usually perform shoulder debridement together with osteotomy.

Shoulder arthroscopy

Arthroscopic surgery is a minimally invasive procedure used to diagnose and treat joint conditions, including shoulder osteoarthritis. This technique involves using a small, flexible tube with a camera called an arthroscope, which your doctor will use to view and get real-time videos of the inside of your joint through a high-definition monitor.

Your orthopedic surgeon will create 2-3 small incisions, which will serve as the entry point of the arthroscope and other pencil-thin instruments. Some procedures that your physician may perform include:

  • Debridement and removal of damaged cartilage
  • Removal of loose bodies and bone spurs 
  • Repairing torn cartilage

Shoulder arthroscopy is a good option for patients with mild to moderate osteoarthritis. It promotes quick healing and fewer complications compared to open surgeries.

Microfracture surgery

Microfracture is a surgical technique used to repair chondral defects, but only if the articular damage is small and isolated. It aims to promote cartilage regeneration and healing by creating micro-cuts in the underlying bone of the impaired cartilage. 

Once tiny fractures are made, the blood from the bone will ooze onto the cartilage, thus facilitating new cell growth in the area. 

Typically, doctors perform microfracture surgery together with osteotomy, debridement, or regenerative methods.

Hemiarthroplasty

Hemiarthroplasty came from the word hemi, which means “half,” and arthroplasty, which means “joint replacement.” So in simpler terms, hemiarthroplasty means partial joint replacement.

This procedure works by replacing the humeral head with a prosthetic implant while leaving the glenoid socket intact. There are two types of hemiarthroplasty:

  • Stemmed hemiarthroplasty – a prosthetic metal ball and stem are used to replace the damaged head of the arm bone.
  • Resurfacing hemiarthroplasty – uses a cap-like prosthesis without a stem to replace only the humeral head’s surface. 

Both procedures are only recommended for patients with a severely damaged humeral head but healthy and intact glenoid socket. Additionally, your doctor will assess your health, activity level, and age first before recommending this surgery.

Total shoulder replacement

If both the ball and socket are damaged, then your physician might recommend a total shoulder replacement. This surgical technique involves replacing the entire glenohumeral joint with a prosthetic one to reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis and improve one’s quality of life.

Generally, an orthopedic surgeon will use an artificial stemmed metallic ball and implant it with bone cement on the joint’s surface. They will then use an all-plastic socket to replace the glenoid cavity. 

Total shoulder replacement is an effective technique in treating moderate to severe osteoarthritis. It is an effective treatment option that has been relieving joint pain for over 53,000 Americans each year

Reverse total shoulder replacement

The rotator cuffs are a group of muscles and tendons surrounding the shoulder joint, stabilizing it firmly onto its socket. Unfortunately, these vital structures may be affected and damaged by osteoarthritis, causing recurrent pain and mobility problems.

Doctors usually recommend a reverse total shoulder replacement for patients with osteoarthritis and a damaged rotator cuff. This type of surgical treatment involves cutting away the damaged surfaces of the ball and socket joint and then replacing them with artificial ones, like in total shoulder arthroplasty.

But in reverse shoulder replacement, the plastic socket is attached to the humerus while the metallic ball is affixed to the bone of the upper arm.

Physicians typically recommend reverse total shoulder replacement to patients with severe osteoarthritis with rotator cuff tears. It may also be an option for people who have suffered from a failed shoulder replacement. 

outpatient surgery center in the Triangle

Where can I find the best outpatient surgery center in the Triangle?

If you’re experiencing shoulder problems similar to osteoarthritis, then you can seek our Raleigh orthopedic surgeons for proper diagnosis and treatment plans.

Raleigh Orthopaedic Surgery Center is both the largest and most modern ambulatory surgery facility in Eastern North Carolina to specialize exclusively in orthopaedics. Our patients receive outstanding patient satisfaction and superior clinical outcomes at reduced costs. Call Raleigh Orthopaedic Surgery Center at 919-719-3070 for more information.

The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.