What is Shoulder Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis of the shoulder is a degenerative joint disease that occurs when the articular cartilage, cushioning the joint, breaks down and causes the bones to rub together. The cartilage lines the ends of the bones and is responsible for providing a pain-free, smooth glide of the shoulder joint. When this cushion breaks down from natural wear and tear that comes with aging or from a previous injury that altered the mechanics of the joint, pain can occur. Osteoarthritis is found most frequently in people over age 50, although it can occur at any age. Biological and mechanical changes to the shoulder joint from osteoarthritis make the condition irreversible. Since this disease cannot be cured, Dr. James Mazzara, orthopedic shoulder surgeon, offers patients in Manchester, South Windsor, Rocky Hill, Glastonbury and surrounding Hartford communities several joint preservation and cartilage restoration techniques, designed to return function to the shoulder while alleviating pain, without shoulder replacement surgery.
What are the Joint Preservation and Cartilage Restoration options?
Dr. Mazzara offers several surgical treatment options for cartilage damage, based on the patient’s symptoms, age and on the type and extent of damaged cartilage. Joint preservation and cartilage restoration give patients the ability to prolong or eliminate total shoulder replacement. Surgical options are offered, depending upon the type of damage in the shoulder. These are categorized as follows:
- Small lesions with partial fraying or partial loss of cartilage thickness:
- The preferred treatment is a shoulder arthroscopy, performed with small incisions, a camera called an arthroscope and specialized instruments to remove any loose pieces of cartilage and stabilize the area of damage to prevent additional injury. The procedure of smoothing out the torn cartilage is called debridement and chondroplasty. It is successful in alleviating pain for small lesions.
- Full thickness loss of cartilage- Microfracture or Marrow stimulation:
- This means the cartilage has deteriorated down to bone but has good surrounding cartilage. This technique is used to restore and regrow cartilage tissue that is similar to the damaged articular cartilage. Dr. Mazzara will create tiny holes in the damaged bone to release marrow. The holes will allow bone marrow to seep out and fill the damaged area. A blood clot is then formed, which will regrow tissue over the exposed bone. The overall goal of this joint preservation and cartilage restoration technique is to restore and regrow tissue similar to a patient’s lost articular cartilage.
- Large loss of cartilage without good surrounding cartilage:
- Younger patients who have lost too much cartilage to be treated with microfracture, a resurfacing procedure using a cartilage graft from a donor or cadaver may be considered.
Are you a candidate for joint preservation and/or cartilage restoration?
There are two ways to initiate a consultation with Dr. Mazzara:
You can provide current X-rays and/or MRIs for a clinical case review with Dr. Mazzara.
You can schedule an office consultation with Dr. Mazzara.
What happens after joint preservation and cartilage restoration surgery?
Osteoarthritis and other shoulder defects can lead to stiffness and limited range of motion in the shoulder. It is important to regain mobility as soon as possible. Patients will often use an arm sling in the early weeks following surgery. Dr. Mazzara and his orthopedic team will also arrange for a specific physical therapy program that that will help restore motion and increase muscle strength to help stabilize the shoulder.
For more information on joint preservation and cartilage restoration as an alternative to a total shoulder joint replacement, please contact the office of Dr. James Mazzara, orthopedic shoulder surgeon in Manchester, South Windsor, Rocky Hill, Glastonbury and surrounding Hartford communities.