Shoulder replacement surgery success in rheumatoid arthritis

People with rheumatoid arthritis could benefit from shoulder surgery, says research from The Mayo Clinic in the US.

Many people with rheumatoid arthritis eventually develop shoulder arthritis but replacement surgery can be complicated because bones start wearing away. If medication and physical therapy are not enough, shoulder replacement surgery is a common next step and it improves motion and reduces pain in nearly all cases, the scientists explain in the Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery.

A total of 303 people with rheumatoid arthritis who had shoulder replacement operations were tracked for five years.

Of those who had total shoulder replacement, 96% were still alive and had no need for further surgery on the affected shoulder five years later. Ten years after the initial op, 93% were alive with no need for more surgery. In those who had only one side of a joint replaced, 89% were alive with no need for further surgery five years on and 88% had no need for more surgery 10 years after the initial op.

“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,” says Dr John Sperling who was involved in the work. “Thankfully, the shoulder replacement surgery has really come a long way over the past 20 to 25 years. Typically now it’s a one-hour surgery,  one night in the hospital and  the arm in a little soft sling for six weeks, and all the physical therapy can be done on their own at home.”

To read the original research visit