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Health Information Treating Shoulder Pain

Aside from artists, dancers and athletes, most people probably don't consider the intricate nature of the shoulder until their range of motion is restricted or they experience pain. While the shoulder joint itself is a simple ball in a socket, the muscles and connective tissue that surround it are highly complex. This is why the shoulder joint can be so sensitive.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics approximately 14 million people seek medical attention for shoulder-related problems annually. "The most common reason that people seek help for their shoulders is pain, especially pain that interferes with their sleep at night," says Anthony Romeo, MD, a specialist in the treatment of shoulder arthritis at Rush.

"One cause of this pain is the loss of cartilage," he says. This is commonly caused by osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or an injury that causes trauma to the cartilage. There is no reason to live with this type of pain when effective treatment is available. "The simplest treatment is resurfacing the joint to replace the cartilage," says Romeo. This is usually done in younger patients who have had a trauma from a sports injury, a fall or automobile collision.

Another strategy is to replace part of the shoulder joint or all of the joint. "There are a number of new techniques for replacing the ball and socket of the shoulder," says Romeo. Technical advances have brought better function after surgery and the implants, or replacement joints, last longer and are more durable.

The most common problem treated with this type of joint replacement surgery is osteoarthritis. "The results after surgery are related to having replaced the bad cartilage, establishing the correct position of the joint and the quality of the muscles and tendons around the shoulder, especially the rotator cuff," notes Romeo.

"Some people have the misconception that outcomes after shoulder surgeries are not as successful as other joint replacement surgeries. In fact, the results of improved range of motion and function are similar to hip and knee replacement surgeries," says Romeo. "In addition, we have fewer complications like blood clots. Theres also less blood loss and stress on the heart and lungs with shoulder replacement compared to hip or knee replacement."

A new advancement in the last three years is a shoulder replacement designed for people who do not have a normally functioning rotator cuff. "Despite the rotator cuff deficiency, we are able to achieve pain relief and improved movement of the arm even with this challenging problem," Romeo says.

"This surgery can really make a difference in someones life," says Romeo. "And we are fortunate at Rush to have one of the most sophisticated shoulder treatment programs in the Midwest."

Dr. Romeo will be presenting more information on treatment options for shoulder arthritis, on Saturday, June 16, 2007, starting at 9:00 a.m. in Room 994 of the Armour Academic Center at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Dr. Romeo will be joined by his colleagues, Kathy Weber, MD, who will discuss nonsurgical management of shoulder pain, and Greg Nicholson, MD, who will talk about the diagnosis and treatment of rotator cuff problems.

Phone 888 352-RUSH (888 352-7874) for more information or to register. Or visit the Upcoming Events page. You can also use the registration request form to register online.

More Information at Your Fingertips:

  • For information on shoulder care at Rush visit the Hand, Elbow and Shoulder home page.
  • For information on other orthopedic care at Rush visit the Orthopedics home page.
  • Looking for a doctor? Call toll free: 888 352-RUSH (7874)

Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.

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