You reach for a plate on a high shelf and wince in pain. Washing your hair is now an ordeal and you can no longer toss a football in the backyard with your grandkids. Shoulder pain, which can range from a dull ache to a sensation so piercing it doubles you over in pain, is extremely common, affecting between 18-26% of the population, with a lifetime prevalence as high as 67%.
Like the hip, the shoulder is a ball and socket joint: the ball-like end of the upper arm bone (humerus) fits into the cup-like socket of the shoulder blade (scapula). Think of a golf ball sitting delicately on a tee, which is an apt analogy because the socket — called the glenoid — is relatively shallow. Meanwhile, the muscles and tendons that make up the rotator cuff keep everything working smoothly. The shoulder joint can turn in many directions and that flexibility also makes it very vulnerable to dislocation and injuries.
Pain and lack of mobility can come from different sources and have an outsized impact on your life. Treatment runs the gamut. In many cases, icing the achy joint, immobilizing it, and taking pain medication may be just what the doctor ordered. But when the source of the pain is more complex, you may require surgery.
Let’s take a look at a few of the most common sources of shoulder pain and some potential solutions:
- Arthritis: Osteoarthritis is the most common form of shoulder arthritis and occurs when the cartilage cushion between bones begins to wear down. It usually rears its painful head during middle age and worsens as time goes on.
- Rotator cuff injuries: When you lift your arm overhead, you can thank your rotator cuff. It’s made up of the muscles and tendons that secure the arm bone to the shoulder socket. Rotator cuffs can become inflamed or even torn — from an injury or simply due to repeated use over time. One telltale sign of a tear is that the pain is accompanied by weakness. Surgery may be recommended if the tear is severe.
- Shoulder instability: When the humerus head comes completely out of the shoulder socket, you have a dislocated shoulder. But sometimes the head slips out only partially, which is referred to as subluxation, or shoulder instability. If dislocations or subluxations occur repeatedly, the joint may eventually become arthritic.
- Fractures: The most common sites of shoulder fractures are the collarbone, humerus, and scapula. Less serious fractures can be treated non-surgically.
The Anika Difference
Anika’s wide range of innovative shoulder products are designed to get you back to the activities you love sooner than you might imagine without restrictions.
Shoulder Implant Systems (for Glenohumeral Osteoarthritis)
The OVOMotion® with Inlay Glenoid Total Shoulder Arthroplasty System is one of several Anika products that offer a minimally invasive alternative to traditional shoulder replacement for patients suffering from glenohumeral osteoarthritis, across glenoid stages. These implants recreate the native contours of the joint while preserving as much of the shoulder’s bones and soft tissues as possible.
Tactoset® is an injectable bone repair therapy utilizing our proprietary hyaluronic acid technology for the treatment of small cracks in the shoulder bones and other bone defects. Once injected, it hardens and mimics the properties of the natural bone, then remodels into healthy bone over time. Tactoset is also used to augment the strength of hardware, such as suture anchors, used in shoulder surgery.
Suture Anchors (for Rotator Cuff Repair)
Suture anchors are used to repair torn rotator cuffs, like the new Anika X-Twist Fixation System. Think of them as a cross between a screw and a sewing needle. The surgeon inserts one end of the anchor into the arm bone, then passes the suture “thread” through the eye, then through the tendon to reattach the two. Anika offers many different suture anchor options for rotator cuff repairs including the X-Twist Fixation System and many other suture anchor options.
Suture Anchors (for Shoulder Instability Repair)
The labrum is the cartilage attached to the rim of the shoulder socket that helps keep the ball of the joint in place. Anika offers a number of different suture anchor designs to help repair tears of the labrum — a common source of shoulder instability, including anchors made of biocomposite material, designed to be resorbed into the body over the healing process.
Button Fixation Systems (for Biceps Repair)
A biceps tendon tear is another common source of shoulder pain. One of Anika’s biceps repair solutions, called a button fixation system, is used to reattach the bicep tendon to bone.
If shoulder pain is affecting your quality of life, use our Find a Doctor tool to locate an expert in your area.