Why does my shoulder hurt?
The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint that is made up mainly of two bones. The ball portion of the joint is part of the upper arm bone (humerus). The socket portion is part of the shoulder blade. The ball fits into the socket, allowing the shoulder to move. The two bones rub together as the shoulder moves, and in a healthy shoulder, that movement is painless.
Unfortunately, over time, regular wear and tear or injury to the joint can result in significant pain. There are three common conditions that damage the shoulder:
- Proximal humeral fracture.
- Rotator cuff arthropathy.
In a normal, healthy shoulder joint, the surfaces of the ball and socket bones are very smooth and covered with a tough, protective tissue called cartilage. The cartilage prevents direct contact between these bones and allows them to move smoothly over each other without friction or wear on the bone surfaces.
The problems start when the cartilage is injured or worn away—which is actually the definition of osteoarthritis. The bones grind against each other, and that grinding hurts. Eventually, all that friction causes the bone surfaces to deteriorate. Unfortunately, there is no medication or treatment that will make damaged cartilage grow back.
Proximal humeral fracture
Proximal humeral fracture is just the medical name for a broken shoulder (Specifically, it means a fracture of the upper arm at the shoulder joint.). The injury is especially common among older people who suffer from osteoporosis, which causes the bone to become more fragile over time—making it vulnerable to fractures caused by falls or direct blows, like car accidents.
Rotator cuff arthropathy
The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that holds the shoulder together and helps stabilize it and give it strength. Rotator cuff arthropathy is a combination of two types of damage—not only has the cartilage been damaged or worn away, but the rotator cuff tendon that connects the muscle to the bone has also been severely worn or torn.
Depending on the extent and cause of the shoulder damage, Dr. Byrne can recommend a variety of treatments, including oral medications or injections for pain and inflammation, physical therapy, and various types of surgery. But if those treatments have failed or if you aren't a candidate for them, he can help you determine if it's time to consider shoulder replacement surgery.
How will I know if I should have shoulder replacement?
Dr. Byrne will perform a very thorough examination of your shoulder. This will include a check of the muscles and tendons to determine how much strength and range of movement you have.
In addition, Dr. Byrne and his team will take x-rays, a CT (computed tomography) scan, or an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), which will be used to further assess the condition of your shoulder joint. If you decide on shoulder replacement surgery, these images also will be used to help him select the best type and size of shoulder implant.
Based on the examination and tests, Dr. Byrne will determine whether you are a candidate for shoulder replacement. Although widely available, shoulder replacement is a major surgical procedure and should be considered only when all other treatment methods have failed.