shoulder instability and osteoarthritis

Study Finds Early Surgical Intervention in Shoulder Instability May Prevent Osteoarthritis

A new study has found that when shoulder instability is treated early, it may prevent osteoarthritis. The results were presented at the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons 2021 meeting. It also suggests that older adults are at an increased risk of developing arthritis within the shoulder. Here, we will look at what the study found and how shoulder instability and osteoarthritis are linked.

What did the study find?

The study, carried out by the Mayo Clinic, is the largest one to assess anterior shoulder instability in the US population. It included 154 patients taken from a regional database. They had a follow-up for an average of 15.2 years.

It was revealed that 22.7% of patients in the study went on to develop arthritis symptoms in the shoulder when they didn’t have shoulder stabilisation surgery. Univariate analysis was carried out, revealing that those who did have symptoms of arthritis were more likely to be current or ex-smokers. Manual labourers and older adults were also identified to be at a higher risk.

What is shoulder instability?

Shoulder instability is diagnosed when the ligaments, labrum, or capsule of the joint are torn, detached, or stretched. There are different types of shoulder instability including:

  • Shoulder dislocation – the head of the humerus dislocates from the joint
  • Labral tear – the labrum is peeled off or torn away from the glenoid

Some people are naturally more prone to shoulder instability due to their genetics. The shoulder ligaments are naturally looser, increasing the risk of dislocation.

Pain and a feeling of the shoulder giving in are common symptoms of shoulder instability. If a dislocation has occurred, you may also feel and hear the joint popping out of place. Bruising, swelling, and poor joint mobility are also common symptoms to watch out for.

How are shoulder instability and osteoarthritis linked?

Known as post-traumatic osteoarthritis or PTOA, it has been estimated that over 40% of individuals that sustain an injury to the ligament or meniscus will go on to develop PTOA and the trauma caused by repeated shoulder dislocations results in damage to the shoulder joint that makes patients more susceptible to arthritis.

Treating shoulder instability

Shoulder instability can vary in severity. The type of instability you are experiencing, alongside its severity, will determine the best course of treatment.

For minor dislocations and instability, keeping the arm in a sling and undergoing physiotherapy may be the best option. However, for more severe cases, surgery may be required. You can speak to the surgeon about your likelihood of developing osteoarthritis and the preventative measures you can take.

Book a consultation with the London Shoulder Specialists today to discuss your shoulder instability treatment options.