One of the most common causes of joint pain is arthritis. The most common types of arthritis are:
Sometimes called degenerative arthritis because it is a “wearing out” condition involving the breakdown of cartilage in the joints. When cartilage wears away, the bones rub against each other, causing pain and stiffness. OA usually occurs in people aged 50 years and older, and frequently in individuals with a family history of osteoarthritis.
The most common cause of shoulder replacement, OA can occur without a shoulder injury. However, this seldom happens since the shoulder is not a weight-bearing joint like the knee or hip. Instead, shoulder OA commonly occurs many years following a shoulder injury, such as a dislocation, that has led to joint instability and repeated shoulder dislocations — damaging the shoulder joint so that OA develops.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Produces chemical changes in the joint space that cause it to become thickened and inflamed. In turn, the synovial fluid destroys cartilage. The end result is cartilage loss, pain, and stiffness. RA affects women about 3 times more often than men, and may affect other organs of the body.
May develop after an injury to the joint in which the bone and cartilage do not heal properly. The joint is no longer smooth, and these irregularities lead to more wear on the joint surfaces.
Other causes of joint pain include avascular necrosis, which can result when bone is deprived of its normal blood supply (for example, after organ transplantation or long-term cortisone treatment), and deformity or direct injury to the joint.
Having an Orthopaedic Evaluation
While every orthopaedic evaluation is different, there are many commonly used tests that an orthopaedic specialist may consider in evaluating a patient’s condition. The orthopaedic evaluation usually consists of:
- A thorough review of your medical history
- A physical examination
- Additional tests as needed. These may include laboratory testing of blood, urine, or joint fluid and/or a bone scan of the joint and surrounding soft tissue.
Following an orthopaedic evaluation, the orthopaedic specialist will review and discuss the results with you. Based on his or her diagnosis, your treatment options may include:
- Medications, which may include cortisone injections for temporary pain relief
- Physical therapy
- Shoulder joint fluid supplements (injections that provide temporary pain relief)
- Shoulder joint replacement
If you and your orthopaedic specialist decide that shoulder joint replacement surgery is an option to relieve your pain, the orthopaedic specialist will provide the details of which type of artificial joint he or she will use, what you need to know to prepare for the surgery, how the surgery will be performed, and what results you can expect after the surgery.