Shoulder arthritis is most commonly associated with old age. However, did you know it can also present in younger patients too? UK star Paddy McGuinness has revealed his struggle with arthritis since he was diagnosed aged 45. He has recently undergone surgery to correct his right shoulder after suffering from arthritis symptoms for years.
While it’s common for patients, particularly younger ones, to hold off seeking treatment for shoulder pain, it is crucial early treatment is sought. Here, we’ll look at shoulder arthritis in younger patients and the treatment options available.
Understanding shoulder arthritis in younger patients
Treating older patients with shoulder arthritis has typically been a lot easier for surgeons than treating younger patients with the condition. This is because they know a shoulder arthroplasty will work well in older patients. However, for younger patients, they aren’t typically known to be good candidates for the procedure. That is, until additional research was carried out into arthroplasty for younger patients.
Could joint replacement surgery be key?
A new study has shown that joint replacement surgery can help to relieve pain and improve mobility in the shoulder in patients 50 and younger. The study followed 23 patients, all younger than 50, who underwent arthroplasties between 1986 and 2005. They also looked at 10 patients who simply underwent a humeral head replacement. All reported chronic shoulder pain caused by arthritis.
The results of the study showed that after joint replacement surgery, the patients had significantly lower pain, alongside improved motion. Both partial and full replacement of the joint showed great success in younger patients. This shows surgeons the benefits of the surgery in patients who would previously have been considered as unsuitable for the procedure.
A full joint replacement or humeral head replacement?
While the full joint replacement has shown great results in reduced pain and improved motion, in younger patients there are some concerns over its longevity. The implants used don’t always withstand a lot of wear and tear. This means, younger patients who want to return to an active lifestyle may find it causes issues with full joint replacement. They are known to loosen over time and cause reduced function in younger patients.
The alternative is to undergo humeral head replacement. This too showed great results in the small study. It would result in a better range of motion and reduced pain, without risking the glenoid from loosening with activity.
What other treatment options are available?
Surgery is the only real treatment option available for shoulder arthritis in younger patients. It is known to worsen over time, meaning treatment should be sought quickly.
That being said, if the arthritis isn’t too severe, it could be treated with physical therapy initially. Some exercises can improve the range of motion. Relief may also be felt through certain anti-inflammatory medications.
Overall, this new research proves promising in the treatment of shoulder arthritis in younger patients. As it is a chronic condition, treatment should be sought as early as possible to prevent it from worsening and causing more significant pain and loss of motion.