How is an articular cartilage shoulder injury treated?
Conservative treatment methods are usually the first line of defense for articular cartilage shoulder injuries. An individual may be instructed to rest and ice the shoulder to get the inflammation under control. Excessive joint movement worsen shoulder pain associated with cartilage damage. The use of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) can also help manage pain. If these measures do not alleviate the pain, intra-articular corticosteroid, or Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injections can be helpful in decreasing shoulder pain due to cartilage damage. Physical therapy focused on improving range of motion and shoulder girdle strengthening are routinely used in patients suffering symptomatic shoulder cartilage injuries. Articular cartilage injuries do not heal on their own, so it is important to follow Dr. Williams’ orders to help prevent further damage.
If non-operative treatments fail, Dr. Williams may suggest surgery to help alleviate the persistent shoulder pain. There are a number of different procedures employed to treat individuals with symptomatic shoulder cartilage damage. Dr. Williams will discuss which surgical option is best suited for treating the problem. These procedures are typically done arthroscopically (minimally invasive) on an outpatient basis. These procedures require the use of small incisions made around the shoulder joint. A small fiber-optic camera (arthroscope) and small surgical tools are used to perform the procedure. Loose pieces of cartilage are removed; areas of focal cartilage damage are smoothed. Any visible inflammatory tissue is removed to decrease joint pain during movement. If cases where the damage to the shoulder is extensive, total shoulder replacement or resurfacing may be indicated.