Researchers and Orthopedic Surgeon at The Steadman Philippon Research Institute in Vail Develop New Shoulder Treatment for Arthritis Pain and Osteoarthritis

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The Institute recently validated the CAM procedure, a joint preserving and minimally-invasive treatment for shoulder osteoarthritis allowing patients to resume maximum activity levels without joint replacement surgery.

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During the CAM procedure, a special instrument called a Burr is used to remove cartilage and bone spurs.

Osteoarthritis is notably one of the most debilitating forms of arthritis. The CAM Procedure was designed to alleviate the pain caused by this degenerative and progressive disease.

The Steadman Philippon Research Institute (SPRI) in Vail, CO, has recently validated a new treatment developed by Peter Millett M.D., M.Sc. to help minimize and alleviate the symptoms associated with osteoarthritis of the shoulder. In the initial study group that has undergone the CAM procedure, the vast majority reported a significant improvement in the pain, stiffness and overall weakness related to the disease. The initial data collected and analyzed by Dr. Millett and Marilee Horan, MPH of the SPRI Clinical Research Department, will be reported in Arthroscopy. Editors of the this top medical journal have called the procedure, “amazingly innovative!”

The U.S. Center for Disease Control estimates that in the next 25 years at least 71 million Americans will have some form of arthritis, a degenerative condition of the joints, creating pain, swelling and limited movement for sufferers. Osteoarthritis is notably one of the most debilitating forms of arthritis and is characterized by the deterioration of articular cartilage accompanied by changes in the subchondral (below the cartilage) bone and soft tissue of the joint.

Dr. Peter J. Millett, an orthopedic shoulder surgeon and sports medicine specialist with The Steadman Clinic in Vail is the pioneer of the CAM procedure; CAM stands for Comprehensive Arthroscopic Management. According to Dr. Millett, “The CAM procedure was developed because we began to see a higher occurrence in younger patients — predominantly athletes — with advanced arthritis of the shoulder. In addition, older patients who wish to remain active were in need of other options in order to delay total joint replacement surgery.”

The CAM procedure was designed for osteoarthritis of the shoulder in stages over the course of five years with a specific focus to alleviate pain along the back and side of the shoulder. During the procedure, damaged cartilage and labral tissue is removed and regenerated. Scarred ligaments and capsular tissues are released to restore mobility. The most important aspect of the procedure is the decompression of the axillary nerve, which becomes entrapped by scar tissue and bone spurs; freeing up this nerve alleviates much of the pain associated with osteoarthritis of the shoulder.

Osteoarthritis is often hereditary and can occur due to degenerative changes within the body, but it can also occur as a result of a prior sports or traumatic injury. While not very many orthopedic surgeons have adopted the CAM procedure to date, Dr. Millett believes that with further study, research and education through the Steadman Philippon Research Institute, the technique can be shared, both nationally and internationally, to other surgeons so that it can be offered to more patients. The procedure requires a very high degree of technical skill and experience and therefore requires advanced training to perform safely.

For more information, please visit the Steadman Philippon Research Institute website.

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