Shoulder surgery for shoulder arthritis: Explore your options

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Shoulder surgery for shoulder arthritis: Explore your options

Shoulder surgery for shoulder arthritis — Options include shoulder replacement surgery and arthroscopic shoulder surgery.

If you have shoulder arthritis, you know how painful it is and how much the loss of motion in your shoulder can interfere with your life. Your shoulder is usually the most mobile of all your joints. And when its range of motion is limited, simple tasks, such as reaching for an object in front of you, pulling your shirt over your head or scratching your back, can become difficult or even impossible.

If you've tried medications and exercises for your shoulder and haven't had much luck, you're probably thinking about shoulder surgery. Although joint replacement isn't the only surgical procedure available, it is the most common one for shoulder arthritis. Review your options with your doctor. Shoulder surgery can reduce your pain and increase the range of motion in your shoulder.

What is the stress response?

Stress response, often referred to as the "fight-or-flight" reaction, is your body's rapid and automatic switch into "high gear." It's easy to imagine how this reaction helps you deal with a physical threat. You need the energy, speed, concentration and agility either to protect yourself or to run as fast as possible.

When you encounter such a threat, the hypothalamus, a tiny region at the base of your brain, sets off an alarm system in your body. Through a combination of nerve and hormonal signals, this system prompts your adrenal glands, situated atop your kidneys, to release a surge of hormones — the most abundant being adrenaline and cortisol.

Adrenaline increases your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure and boosts energy supplies. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream, enhances the brain's use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues.

Cortisol also curbs functions that would be nonessential or detrimental in a fight-or-flight situation. It alters immune system responses and suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth processes.

The complex alarm system also communicates with regions of the brain that control mood, motivation and fear.

Digestive system

It's common to have a stomachache or diarrhea when you're stressed. This happens because stress hormones slow the release of stomach acid and the emptying of the stomach. The same hormones also stimulate the colon, which speeds the passage of its contents. Chronic hormone-induced changes can increase your appetite and put you at risk of weight gain.

Nervous system

Certain byproducts of cortisol act as sedatives, which can contribute to an overall feeling of depression. If your fight-or-flight response never shuts off, the stress hormones may contribute to persistent and severe depression, as well as feelings of anxiety, helplessness and impending doom.

Such stress-induced depression often results in sleep disturbances, loss of sex drive and loss of appetite. It also may make you more vulnerable to developing certain personality or behavioral disorders.

Studies also suggest that chronic activation of stress hormones may alter the operation and structure of brain cells that are critical for memory formation and function.

Other systems

Stress worsens many skin conditions — such as psoriasis, eczema, hives and acne — and can trigger asthma attacks.

Managing stress

Stressful events are a fact of life, but you can take steps to manage the impact these events have on you. You can learn to identify what stresses you out, how to take control of some stress-inducing circumstances, and how to take care of yourself physically and emotionally when you face events you can't control.

These strategies can include exercise, relaxation techniques, healthy nutritional choices, social support networks and professional psychotherapy. The payoff of managing stress is peace of mind and — perhaps — a longer, healthier life.

Last Updated: 11/03/2006
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