With increased age and intensified wear, the upper arm tendon (rotator cuff) weakens and can tear on its own, even without an underlying fall. The consequences are generally pain and a restricted range of motion.
If physical therapy, pain relievers, and injections do not improve function and pain, tears can be sutured arthroscopically. Major tendon defects can even result in muscle displacement.
Inflammation in the bursa and tendons of the rotator cuff can lead to movement-related pain radiating into the upper arm. If the pain from the impingement cannot be controlled by medications, injections, and physical therapy, arthroscopic removal of the inflamed bursa and smoothing of the impinging areas of the acromion is an option.
Comminuted fractures, years of taking medications, or shoulder dislocations can wear down cartilage (osteoarthritis) in the shoulder joint. For the most part, however, the pain and motion restrictions associated with osteoarthritis occur without any discernible cause. When patients reach the point where they can no longer control the pain with pain medications, it’s time to discuss a joint replacement.