Question:About five years ago, I dislocated my shoulder repeatedly. Eventually I had surgery to clean out the joint and tighten it up. I'm starting to notice some crackling noise in that joint when I move my arm overhead. Does this mean something has come loose? Do I need to do something for this before it becomes a problem?
Answer:You may be noticing some early signs of joint degeneration. Arthritic changes aren't uncommon after shoulder surgery for recurrent shoulder dislocations. In fact, some studies show up to 20 per cent of patients who have surgery for shoulder instability develop postoperative arthritis.
Sometimes early arthritic changes are already present in the shoulder before the surgery. This has been observed in about nine per cent of patients with chronic shoulder instability. Loss of shoulder motion and function seem to be linked with deficiencies leading to arthritis.
A follow-up visit with your orthopedic surgeon may be in order. At the very least, an X-ray of the joint will be done to rule out fracture or loose fragments in the joint. The X-ray can also confirm the presence of arthritic changes.
Early diagnosis of orthopedic problems is always recommended. Taking care of a minor problem can help prevent major problems later.Todd S. Ellenbecker, DPT, MS, OCS, et al. Humeral Resurfacing Hemiarthroplasty with Meniscal Allograft in a Young Patient with Glenohumeral Osteoarthritis. In Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy. May 2008. Vol. 38. No. 5. Pp. 277-286.
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