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    Sutter Orthopaedic Institute

    Arthritis, constant use, sports activities, and accidents can all damage the complex shoulder joint, resulting in pain and loss of motion. Sutter orthopedic surgeons offer the latest proven advances in diagnosis and care of shoulder disorders, including partial and total joint replacement and reverse shoulder joint replacement for complex shoulder disorders and rotator cuff insufficiencies.


    When a patient with a shoulder disorder is referred to an orthopedic surgeon, the first step is determining the nature and extent of the problem. The patient typically undergoes diagnostic testing, which may include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), arthrogram (joint X-ray), and ultrasound. The results of those tests will guide the surgeon to determine possible treatment options and recommend the best course of care.


    The complexity of the shoulder structure (see illustration) and its location once made it difficult for surgeons to access shoulder conditions without open surgery and long recovery times. The advent of arthroscopic surgery has allowed surgeons with specialized skill and training to repair joints and ligaments more effectively and with easier patient recovery. Sutter orthopedic surgeons offer a full range of open and arthroscopic shoulder repair procedures, including removing inflamed or damaged tissue; removing bone spurs; repairing rotator cuffs, labral cartilage, and biceps tendon; correcting shoulder instability, frozen shoulder and other shoulder conditions.

    Information about diagnosis and treatment of many shoulder conditions is available in our Health Information Library under the following topics: Arthritis (Osteoarthritis); Arthritis, Rheumatoid; Bursitis; Dislocated or Separated Shoulder; Frozen Shoulder; Osteoporosis; Rotator Cuff Disorders; Separated Shoulder; Shoulder Problems and Injuries; and Shoulder Replacement Surgery.

    Additional information resources include the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease (NIAMS).

    Recent Advances

    Medical science is constantly developing more effective and less invasive techniques to diagnose and treat shoulder conditions. Sutter surgeons offer the most recent advances in arthroscopic shoulder repair surgery including:

    • Reverse shoulder arthroplasty – The surgeon replaces the shoulder joint with an artificial joint that changes the shoulder mechanics. Instead of the end of the humerus (arm) bone fitting into the scapula (shoulder blade) the surgeons places a ball-type prosthesis in the shoulder blade and the humerus is fitted with an artificial cup that fits around the ball. The procedure has proved very beneficial to active patients, older patients with severe degeneration and those with missing or damaged rotator cuffs.
    • Hemiarthroplasty – Rather than replace both sides of the shoulder joint, surgeons replace only the top of the humerus (arm) bone and reshape the shoulder blade cavity. During the reshaping, the cavity is scraped to encourage the body's healing mechanism to build new bone and cartilage.

    While there are a number of treatment options, your Sutter surgeon will discuss available treatments with you and make recommendations based on your specific condition.

    In addition, several Sutter orthopedic surgeons are actively involved in clinical trials through Sutter Institute for Medical Research, providing patients access to the latest advances in shoulder treatments. If you are interested in participating in a clinical trial, talk to your surgeon about current clinical trials seeking volunteers.

    Find Out More

    Patients generally receive referrals from their primary care doctors to an orthopedic surgeon. To self-refer or learn more about surgeons who care for shoulder conditions, go to the Physician Directory and select Orthopedic Surgery from the drop-down menu under Physician Specialties. Clicking on a physician's name opens a profile, which offers more insight into the physician's areas of concentration.