ROCHESTER, Minn. — Jan. 13, 2014 — Shoulder arthritis is a common problem for rheumatoid arthritis patients: pain and difficulty moving their arms can grow so severe that daily tasks and sleep become difficult. If medication and physical therapy aren’t enough, shoulder replacement surgery is a common next step. Despite surgical challenges with some rheumatoid arthritis patients, the procedure improves range of motion and reduces pain in nearly all cases, especially for those with intact rotator cuffs, a Mayo Clinic study shows. The findings are published in the Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery.
“I think it’s quite encouraging,” says senior author John Sperling, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. “What we’ve learned from this study is that if people do develop significant pain in their shoulder due to arthritis associated with rheumatoid arthritis, shoulder arthroplasty really is a predictable and reliable operation to help them improve their function and relieve pain.”
Journalists: Sound bites with Dr. Sperling are available in the downloads.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues, causing joint problems and sometimes affecting other organs. Many patients eventually develop shoulder arthritis; sometimes, bones start wearing away and rotator cuffs tear, making shoulder replacement surgery more complicated.