Shoulder Arthritis

Shoulder is one of the most mobile joint of the body. The range of shoulder motion is rather simple and limited. Shoulder arthritis is highly painful and makes the simple movements difficult.

Shoulder contains only two joints: acromioclavicular or AC joint and glenohumeral or scapulothoracic joint. Either one of the joints or both the joints are affected by shoulder arthritis.

To provide an effective treatment for the shoulder arthritis it is necessary for the physician to determine which one of the joint is affected and the type of arthritis.

Causes of Shoulder Arthritis:

The main arthritis which can affect the shoulder is listed below:

  • Osteoarthritis:

    it is a degenerative state which damages the outer smooth covering of the bone. Generally people above 50 years are affected and acromioclavicular joint of the shoulder is affected.

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis:

    it is a complete inflammatory state of the synovium or the joint lining. People of any age group can be affected and many joints of the body are affected.

  • Post-traumatic Arthritis:

    it is a form of osteoarthritis and is developed after a wound.

Symptoms of Shoulder Arthritis:

One of the most regular symptoms of shoulder arthritis is shoulder pain, which gets worsen with the movement and it gets worse. If glenohumeral joint of the shoulder is affected then the pain is centralized at the back of the shoulder. The pain intensity changes with the weather change. In case of acromioclavicular joint affected the pain is centralized in the front side of the shoulder.

Shoulder movement is limited and becomes difficult when the arm is lifted to do any work. Sometimes snapping or clicking sound can also be heard during the movement. With the progression of the disease slightest movement of the shoulder can cause severe pain. Night pain accompanied with sleepless night is also common.

Diagnosis of Shoulder Arthritis:

Shoulder arthritis can be easily diagnosed with the help of an X-ray and physical examination. Physician may look for the following conditions during the physical examination:

  • Atrophy or weakness in the muscles
  • Softness to touch
  • Extent of range of motion both passive and active
  • Signs of injury of the tendons, ligaments and muscles of the joint
  • Signs of prior injuries
  • Participation of other joints
  • Crackling sound with the movement
  • Pain when joint is pressurized
  • X-ray of the shoulder

To support the physical examination, a local anesthetic injection is given to joint temporarily.

How Can I Treat Shoulder Arthritis?

After reading all the possible causes, symptoms and diagnosis of shoulder arthritis the next obvious question arises is how can I treat shoulder arthritis? Treatment procedure for shoulder arthritis is divided into two categories: non-surgical treatment and surgical treatment.

Nonsurgical Treatment:

Like any other arthritic condition, the preliminary treatment for shoulder arthritis is non-surgical treatment. It may involve some physical therapies and in addition to that the following can be included

  • Physical therapy
  • Modification or rest from some of the physical activities
  • Anti-inflammatory, non-steroidal medications
  • Moist heat
  • Ice packs for 30-20 minutes, two to three times of the day
  • Dietary supplements

Surgical Treatment:

In case there is no benefit from the non-surgical treatment then the physician might go for surgical treatment. Surgical process involves some complications and risks.

Glenohumeral joint arthritis can be surgically cured by total shoulder replacement or total shoulder arthroplasty or the upper arm bone’s head is replaced or hemiarthroplasty.

Acromioclavicular joint arthritis can be surgically cured by a resection arthroplasty. Generally the surgical procedures are highly effective in restoring the movement and decreasing the pain.