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When Should I Consider Arthroscopy for Shoulder Arthritis?

Shoulder arthritis is a pain — literally. The shoulder is the third most common joint in the body to suffer from arthritis (after only the hip and the knee), and the pain caused by bone grating against bone can be intense.

Here at Steven E. Nolan, MD, we don’t like seeing any of our patients suffer, so we aim to relieve your pain with as little intrusion as possible.

Sometimes, though, shoulder arthroscopy is the best option for your situation. Here’s when you should consider it for your shoulder arthritis.

What is shoulder arthritis?

The most common form of shoulder arthritis is osteoarthritis, which occurs when the smooth cartilage that covers the ends of the bones and acts as a cushion wears away. This erosion usually happens over years of wear and tear until the cartilage is gone and your bones rub against each other.

The resulting friction can cause inflammation, severe pain, limited range of motion, and stiffness. The most severe pain typically occurs with more extreme motions, such as reaching high over your head or behind your back. As the arthritis advances, the pain may also wake you up at night.

How can it be treated?

We always start treatment for shoulder arthritis with conservative options that are as minimally invasive as possible. The first steps can include taking anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen, limiting your range of motion by modifying your activities, and heating and icing your shoulder 3-4 times daily.

Other treatment options that provide pain relief include physical therapy, which can help keep your shoulder loose and help you regain the range of motion you’ve lost, and cortisone injections, which can help reduce inflammation and temporarily relieve your pain.

If you have worked through all of these treatments and the pain and limitations of your shoulder arthritis are still negatively affecting your daily life and activities, it may be time to consider arthroscopic surgery.

What should I expect with shoulder arthroscopy?

Shoulder arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgery in which Dr. Nolan makes a small incision in your shoulder and inserts a thin arthroscope, which includes a camera to view the joint on a monitor. He can then insert thin instruments to make the necessary repairs.

When we treat shoulder arthritis, the procedure includes cleaning up loose pieces of cartilage and bone, loosening tight tissue, and removing any bone spurs we see. This will not completely eliminate or cure your arthritis, but it will grant you a reprieve from the pain. As your pain eases, you’ll be able to get back to normal activities.

Physical therapy will also help get your shoulder motions back to normal as you recover.

If you’re dealing with shoulder pain, our team at Steven E. Nolan, MD, is ready to ease your suffering and help you return to your everyday life. Call our Sugar Land office at 281-720-6909 to schedule an appointment, or use our online scheduler to book a time yourself!

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