Non-Surgical Options for Shoulder Arthritis

Arthritis of the shoulder joint restricts movement, often resulting in a need to limit or give up favorite activities.  Is shoulder replacement surgery or arthroscopic surgery the only option? Not these days. The regenerative medicine specialists at Regenexx offer innovative procedures that can help. 

What is Shoulder Osteoarthritis?

Shoulder joints contain cartilage to reduce friction and cushion bone. When cartilage wears down or becomes injured by things like metabolic syndrome issues (excess weight, high blood pressure, elevated sugar levels) or physical injury, the result can be arthritis. Arthritis can lead to shoulder pain, stiffness, limited function and reduced mobility. Bone spurs may form to worsen the condition further.

Many people think that the loss of cartilage is the cause of arthritis pain.  Arthritis is the cause of the loss of cartilage but loss of cartilage is not the cause of the pain since it actually does not have any nerve endings. Cartilage is the victim of the arthritic disease. Today we are learning it’s actually caused by the chemicals released by the body due to inflammation.  That is, there are more substances in the joint that are destructive than substances that can repair. The imbalance leads to wearing of the cartilage and other structures.  This degeneration of tissue and increased inflammation can result in pain.

A Common Syndrome That Contributes to Shoulder Arthritis

If you’ve reached middle age you may be feeling some shoulder discomfort. This common sensitivity may indicate the beginning of a process that occurs, in part, due to poor posture.

As we age, our shoulders begin to move forward. A rounding of the upper back, referred to as kyphosis, can change the position and how forces are transmitted through the shoulder joint.  Additionally, imbalances of muscle strength and length around the shoulder can change how the ball sits in the socket and can also put pressure on the rotator cuff tendons with use of the shoulder which may result in rotator cuff tears. 

The change in position can overtax both the top and bottom of the shoulder capsule ligaments.  If the condition continues, the ball of the shoulder joint can bump into the socket part of the joint. Bone spurs or arthritis will likely result. 

A regenerative procedure for this condition might be able to help.  At Regenexx, our trained physicians use precise image guidance (live Ultrasound and X-Ray) to inject your own bone marrow concentrate (BMC) containing stem cells and/or platelet rich plasma (PRP).  By injecting BMC and PRP  into specific structures this maximizes the chance of improving the quality, health, and strength of that tissue and thereby reducing pain and improving the function of the shoulder.  

Procedures for Shoulder Arthritis

Shoulder arthritis affects nearly 25% of adults, but many treatments that remain in use provide less than ideal relief.  Some can cause serious side effects.  

According to research, shoulder replacement surgery and arthroscopic surgery can be unreliable and comes with various risks. 

Some non-surgical alternatives, like steroids, can contribute to the deterioration of cartilage, causing further damage to joints and have other systemic side effects. 

Anti-inflammatory medications (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, aka NSAIDS) are often used but unfortunately, are associated with many increased risks even within one week of use, such as heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, and gastrointestinal bleeding.  And chronic use of NSAIDS also accelerates cartilage loss. 

Regenerative medicine offers hope. The physicians at Regenexx specialize in implementing advanced image-guided, non-surgical procedures to strengthen weakened and degenerated tissue and decrease long term inflammation providing relief for the pain caused by injuries and arthritis affecting shoulder joints.

Regenerative Procedures may be the Best Option

“Why not just get it over with and replace the shoulder?” you ask.

  • Because risks associated with the surgery are not uncommon and can be serious.
  • Because persistent pain or nerve related pain is not uncommon after shoulder replacement surgery.
  • Because non-surgical procedures described here augment the body’s innate healing process and are not associated with the same risks as surgery.  
  • Because there is no guarantee that this irreversible surgery is going to fix the pain associated with shoulder arthritis.

Relief for Shoulder Arthritis 

The development of arthritis and associated pain can have varied causes in different individuals. Regenexx physicians are highly trained to identify the specific causes of shoulder pain. Individualized procedures utilizing precisely placed injections may vary depending on the specific structures involved in each patient’s condition. They may include:

  • Injections to tighten the ligaments around the shoulder joint.
  • Injections into the joint to shift the balance of cells in favor of healing and to halt the arthritic process. 
  • Injections into degenerative tears and new tears of the rotator cuff tendons

This procedure utilizes injections of concentrated repair cells (PRP or BMC) from your own body’s blood or bone marrow, respectively. The highly specific, image-guided medical procedure is performed by specialist physicians at Regenexx Tampa Bay and Regenexx at Gold Coast Orthopedics.

Regenexx Procedures Promote Your Body’s Natural Ability to Heal

Specialized procedures involving precise injection of concentrated, naturally occurring healing cells from your own body can be the best options for treating shoulder injuries. They can also be good options for treatment of degenerative conditions like osteoarthritis of the shoulder joint. See this section of our site for more details about this treatment procedure for shoulder issues. 

Are you a candidate for a Regenexx procedure? Contact us today to find out quickly. 

About The Author
Ron Torrance II, DO FAOASM

Ron Torrance II, DO FAOASM

Ronald Torrance II, DO FAOASM, is a non-surgical orthopedic physician specializing in Sports Medicine at Regenexx® at New Regeneration Orthopedics.
Ron Torrance II, DO FAOASM

Ron Torrance II, DO FAOASM

Ronald Torrance II, DO FAOASM, is a non-surgical orthopedic physician specializing in Sports Medicine at Regenexx® at New Regeneration Orthopedics.

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