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Joint Preservation and Cartilage Restoration

Joint Preservation and Cartilage Restoration Overview

Shoulder osteoarthritis can be debilitating for some patients, causing severe pain, stiffness and catching of the joint. This shoulder condition is caused by the wearing away of the cartilage that lines the ends of the bones that creates smooth, pain free motion. An injury to shoulder cartilage, with or without arthritis, is more common in older adults but may be present in young, active individuals who have experienced a sports injury or other trauma. Dr. Brian Waterman has expertise in joint preservation and cartilage restoration shoulder replacement alternatives. These alternative techniques help patients return to daily activities quicker and get back to the sports activities they love without the use of a shoulder replacement.

Arthritis is a progressive disease that cannot be reversed. Once a patient experiences pain and stiffness, it is important to find a shoulder treatment to alleviate the symptoms. In mild cases, a physical therapy program can be prescribed to strengthen the surrounding muscles, along with anti-inflammatory medications and injections to reduce inflammation and pain. In more severe cases, a surgical procedure may be needed to ease the symptoms. There are several shoulder replacement alternatives aimed at joint preservation and cartilage restoration. Dr.Waterman will determine a patient’s shoulder replacement alternatives based on symptoms, extent and type of cartilage damage and age.

For small lesions with partial fraying or loss of cartilage thickness, Dr.Waterman may recommend shoulder arthroscopy, debridement and chondroplasty. This procedure is performed arthroscopically and removes loose pieces of cartilage and stabilizes the damage so it cannot become larger in size.

Microfracture is a joint preservation and cartilage restoration procedure designed to restore and regrow cartilage tissue similar to articular cartilage in patients who have full thickness loss of cartilage with good surrounding cartilage. Microfracture requires Dr. Waterman to make tiny holes in the bone to release marrow. The marrow fills the damaged area, forms a blood clot and regrows tissue over the exposed bone over a period of time.

In patients who would like to prolong a shoulder replacement, such as an adult under 65 years of age with osteoarthritis, cartilage restoration and joint preservation may be good shoulder replacement alternatives. The arthroscopic procedure allows Dr.Waterman to remove loose pieces of cartilage, smooth down the cartilage, remove any bone spurs, release the capsule to allow a larger range of motion and decompress any nerves.
Recovery and Rehabilitation after Joint Preservation and Cartilage Restoration

After a shoulder replacement alternative procedure, Dr.Waterman will prescribe a physical therapy program that will help restore motion and stabilize the joint by strengthening the surrounding muscles. As shoulder function returns and the sling is removed, Dr.Waterman will monitor a patient’s return to activities.

At a Glance

Dr. Brian Waterman, MD

  • Chief & Fellowship Director, Sports Medicine, Wake Forest
  • Team Physician, Wake Forest University, Chicago White Sox
  • Military affiliation/Decorated military officer and surgeon
  • Learn more

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