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General Orthopaedics


Current Concepts in Joint Replacement (CCJR) – Spring 2015


Total shoulder arthroplasty (TSA) and reverse shoulder arthroplasty (RSA) are excellent surgical options for individuals with shoulder arthritis, providing good to excellent results in the vast majority of patients. Complications are rare, but can be devastating for both the patient and surgeon. An uncommon, but extremely problematic complication following shoulder arthroplasty is shoulder stiffness. While substantial literature discussing post-arthroplasty stiffness is available for other joints such as the hip, knee, and elbow, there is a paucity of research available discussing this complication in the shoulder. As noted in multiple reviews, diminished range of motion following TSA or RSA may be due to a number of factors, including pre-operative diagnosis of proximal humerus fracture, inadequate post-operative rehabilitation, implant-related factors such as malpositioning and/or inappropriate-sized implants, and heterotopic ossification. Often, pathology leading to post-arthroplasty stiffness involves scarring of the long head of the biceps tendon, rotator cuff impingement, as well as cuff tendonitis. Periprosthetic joint infection (PJI) is also important to recognise, and may be difficult to diagnose, especially in cases of Propionibacterium acnes infections. Importantly, PJI may present with stiffness as well as instability, and thus a high index of suspicion with a low threshold to aspirate is necessary in these challenging patients. Treatment of patients with stiffness following arthroplasty is challenging, and may involve arthroscopic intervention with or without manipulation, as well as manipulation under anesthesia alone. This paper will discuss the etiology, work-up, and treatment of patients with shoulder stiffness following TSA and RSA.