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Arthritis of the shoulder girdle
Arthritis of the shoulder

What is arthritis?
Arthritis is the name given to any kind of inflammation in the joint itself. It involves inflammation of the joint mucosa accompanied by progressive destruction of the cartilage and joint surface. We are all familiar with the chronic rheumatoid arthritis that occurs in several joints, including the wrist, finger joints, hip, knee, shoulder or elbow. Many of us know people who have been suffering from this condition for years and require long-term medical treatment. After all the conservative treatments have been exhausted, the only option that usually remains is joint replacement surgery. But implanting an artificial shoulder should not be regarded as an act of desperation on the part of the orthopaedic surgeon since it can usually liberate patients from their symptoms and give them a much improved quality of life.

In experienced hands, the results of this operation are very good.
Whereas a humeral head prosthesis alone is occasionally sufficient for a comminuted fracture of this bone, both the head and shoulder socket need to be replaced in cases of rheumatoid arthritis. Since patients with shoulder arthritis typically experience severe pain and much suffering and since the rotator cuff (RC) is usually still well preserved and only the joint interior suffers inflammatory destruction, shoulder replacement surgery is generally very successful, and patients are very grateful for the considerable improvement in their quality of life.

Purulent inflammations of the shoulder
Infections of the joint are serious and frequently entail permanent impairment of the shoulder and lasting disadvantages for the patient. Best results can be achieved only if the infection is detected at an early stage and treated immediately with antibiotics and possibly surgery. Fortunately, shoulder infections are very rare. Thanks to the good local circulation, the risk of infection is very low, even after surgery. Inflammations due to other causes are also rare, but extremely varied and best left to a rheumatologist. It would be beyond the scope of this booklet for me to go into the details of all these rare clinical conditions.