Shoulder Arthritis-Shoulder Joint Pain, Causes, Symptoms, Treatment


Arthritis of the shoulder can be quite a pain; that warrants treatment. There are two joins in the shoulder area, one is located near the place where clavicle (collarbone) meets the shoulder bone tip (acromion) also called acromioclavicular or AC joint.

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The other one is where the upper arm bone or the humerus joins with the shoulder blade (scapula) to form the scapulothoracic joint or the glenohumeral joint. Both these joints can be affected by arthritis.

Causes of shoulder arthritis

There are three major types of arthritis that affect the shoulder:

1. Osteoarthritis: This is a degenerative condition that damages the smooth outer covering of the bone called articular cartilage. It affects people above 50 years of age. The area that is affected is usually the acromioclavicular joint.

2. Rheumatoid Arthritis: This is a systemic inflammatory condition of the synovium or the joint lining. It can affect people of any age and on multiple joints on both shoulders.

3. Posttraumatic Arthritis: It is a type of osteoarthritis that happens after an injury like say, a fracture or shoulder dislocation or even a rotary cuff tear.

Shoulder arthritis symptoms

1. Pain in the shoulder is the most common symptom that worsen progressively and can be aggravated by activity.

2. The pain may be more concentrated in the back of the shoulder and can increase with changes in weather, if the glenohumeral shoulder joint is affected.

3. If the arcomioclavicular joint is affected, then the arthritis shoulder pain is on the front of the shoulder.

4. In case of rheumatoid arthritis, both areas, ie; both shoulder joints can be affected with pain.

5. Inability to move shoulder or arms properly is also another symptom of shoulder arthritis. It may become to difficult o extend your arms to the shelf to pick up something or to even comb your hair. There may be a snapping sound (crepitus) when you move your shoulder.

6. With the progression of the disease, even miniscule movement of the shoulder can cause pain. It may pain more in the night or while you are sleeping.

Diagnosis of shoulder pain and arthritis

The doctor has to find out what kind of arthritis you have to find out the treatment plan. X-rays and physical examination can give you the correct picture to find out what kind of arthritis is affecting the shoulder and to what extent. During the physical examination, the doctor looks for :

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1. Weakness in the muscles, also known as atrophy.

2. Degree of passive (aided) and active (independent range of motion

3. Tenderness of the area.

4. Any sign of injury to the ligaments, tendons and muscles around the joint.

5. Whether there are other joints that involve in the pain (to find out rheumatoid arthritis)

6. Pain where there is pressure on the oint

7. Crepitus (clicking sound or grating feel inside the joint) during the movement.

8. X-rays of the shoulder can show narrowing of the space between the joint, change in the bone and arrangement of bone spurs (osteophytes).

Nonsurgical Treatment for shoulder arthritis

If an injection of a local anesthetic into the joint temporarily relieves the pain, the diagnosis is supported.

The diagnosis can be aided by injection of local anesthetic into the joint to temporarily relieve the pain.

The initial treatment for shoulder arthritis is non-surgical and can involve physical therapy. Some therapies that you need to do include:

1. Modify the way you move your arm to do things

2. Non steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen or aspiring to reduce joint inflammation.

3. Apply ice on the shoulder area for 20 to 30 minutes twice or thrice a day to ease the pain and reduce inflammation.

4. Take dietary supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate but only after consulting with the doctor. The US FDA does not test these dietary supplements and thes compounds may influence the medicines negatively. So get them approved by your doctor before taking them.

5. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, your doctor may prescribe methotrexate, a disease-modifying drug, or advise a series of corticosteroid injections.

Surgical Treatment for shoulder pain arthritis

If the non surgical treatment does not reduce pain, then the person has to try surgical optons. There are some risks and complications involved but if you go to an expert orthopedic surgeon, it is possible to reduce those risks.

A prosthesis replaces the entire shoulder joint in a surgical procedure called total shoulder arthrioplasty; a surgical treatment for arthritis of the glenohumeral joint. The other way is to replace the top part of the upper arm bone with prosthesis, called hermiarthroplasty.

The most common surgical treatment for shoulder arthritis is resection arthroplasty, which treats acromioclavicular joint arthritis. In this procedure, a little piece of bone from the end of the collar bone is taken off, leaving an area that is later filled with scar tissue. The surgical treatment is quite effective in reducing pain and reinstating motion, free arm and shoulder movement.

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