Pieces of dislodged bone or cartilage can be trapped in the synovium, the thin membrane surrounding the shoulder joint. These loose bodies in the shoulder can cause the joint to catch and lock, causing significant pain and greatly restricting the shoulder’s range of motion.
WHAT CAUSES LOOSE BODIES IN THE SHOULDER?
Loose bodies in the shoulder are a common consequence of the gradual degeneration of the cartilage in the shoulder joint. Trauma and sports injuries can also dislodge fragments of bone or cartilage. In addition, restricted circulation to the joint can cause a piece of the surrounding bones, cartilage, or soft tissue to separate.
SYMPTOMS OF LOOSE BODIES IN THE SHOULDER
Many patients with loose bodies in the shoulder experience no symptoms whatsoever and are unaware of the condition. In most cases, however, loose bodies eventually cause moderate to severe pain in the shoulder, as well as a catching or locking sensation. As these symptoms progress, patients may experience a sense of instability in the shoulder.
DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT OF LOOSE BODIES IN THE SHOULDER
Most loose bodies in the shoulder can be easily detected with an X-ray, though an MRI or CT scan may be needed to locate less conspicuous objects.
If the bodies aren’t causing debilitating pain, they can be simply treated with anti-inflammatories, while more severe cases are better addressed with arthroscopic surgery.
Should surgery be necessary, you’ll likely undergo a short arthroscopic procedure during which your surgeon will view the joint through a small pinhole incision while operating on it through another narrow opening. While larger bodies can be removed with open surgery, your surgeon will likely opt to fragment them into smaller components and remove them arthroscopically, greatly reducing your recovery time and minimizing the risk of complications.
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