Arthritis In Shoulder

– What You Should Know About Shoulder Arthritis

By: - Joint Diseases - December 9, 2011 Comments Off on Arthritis in Shoulder – What You Should Know About Shoulder Arthritis
arthritis in shoulder

Most people consider the shoulder to be many joints, but in reality, it is only two. One of the joints in the shoulder is where the collar bone or clavicle meets the tips of the bone in the shoulder, or acromion. This is called the AC joint or acromioclavicular joint. The other joint in the shoulder is where the humerus, or upper arm bone meets the scapula, or the shoulder blade. This is called the scapulothoracic or glenohumeral joint. Both of these joints can be affected by arthritis.

Shoulder arthritis is split into three different categories: osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and posttraumatic arthritis. Osteoarthritis is arthritis in shoulder joints and is caused by the wear and tear of the cartilage in the joints. The joints in your body are cushioned by cartilage and when that cartilage disappears, this is when osteoarthritis forms. When it gets severe, the cartilage is totally gone and essentially when you move your joint, it is bone rubbing against bone which is very painful.  Osteoarthritis usually affects people who are over 50 years old.

The second type of arthritis in shoulder joints is called rheumatoid arthritis. Also known as RA, rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory condition that can affect a person at any age. It is not know why rheumatoid arthritis forms but it is an autoimmune disease which means the body’s immune system begins attacking the joints in the body. Unlike osteoarthritis which usually only affects one joint, for instance, your left hand, rheumatoid arthritis affects both sides, or both your left and right hands.

The third category of arthritis in shoulder joints is a form of osteoarthritis that can develop after you have had an injury called posttraumatic arthritis. Common injuries that cause posttraumatic arthritis are dislocation of the shoulder, fractures of the shoulder bones or rotator cuff injuries.

The main symptom of shoulder arthritis is pain that gets progressively worse as activity happens. The more you use your shoulder, for instance, the worse the pain will get. Depending on the type of arthritis you have and the joint that is affected, the pain may appear in different places. For instance, if you are suffering from osteoarthritis in the acromioclavicular joint, or where the clavicle meats the shoulder bone, you will likely feel more pain in the front of the shoulder, but if you have arthritis in the glenohumeral joint, you will feel pain in the back of the shoulder. Additionally, arthritis in the glenohumeral joint can change with the weather. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you will feel pain in both areas. Other symptoms of shoulder arthritis is limited motion, a clicking or snapping sound in your joint and additional pain at night may happen as well.

Diagnosis for arthritis is typically done via a medical exam and x-ray. During a physical exam, the doctor will look for things like weakness or tenderness in the muscles, will look at the range of motion, look for signs of injury and pain when pressure is applied. Many doctors will inject the joint with a local anesthetic to confirm a diagnosis of arthritis as well. If the pain disappears, a positive diagnosis is established.

There are two main treatment methods for arthritis in the shoulder, non-surgical and surgical. With non-surgical treatment, several methods will be used. Physical therapy and aver the counter anti-inflammatory medications are usually given to start. Other treatment methods include rest, moist heat, icing the shoulder and dietary supplements.

If all of the non-surgical treatment methods have failed, surgical intervention may take place. The most common surgical procedure is resection arthroplasty. This is where a small piece of bone is removed and scar tissue is allowed to form, making a natural buffer between the bones. Additionally, if the arthritis is affecting the glenohumeral joint, a joint replacement may be the best option. Typically surgery works very well when used to treat arthritis, but there are always side effects to surgical procedures.


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