Shoulder Arthritis Symptoms

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“The first doctor to really give me the info I needed on how to treat my shoulders, which, thankfully, are not in need of replacement. Helped me determine that the problem is probably in my spine, which some other doctors had not been able to diagnose so far. Did an excellent job and I do recommend him. JIS always treats you with professionalism and it’s the first place I would recommend to someone who needs a joint replacement.” — Adam G.

Shoulder arthritis is when the articular cartilage inside the shoulder joint becomes damaged.

There are two joints in the shoulder—the glenohumeral shoulder joint and the acromioclavicular (AC) joint. Shoulder arthritis usually refers to the glenohumeral joint, whereas arthritis to the AC joint is referred to specifically as AC joint arthritis.

The glenohumeral joint is the ball and socket joint that connects the upper arm bone to the shoulder blade. Shoulder arthritis is the breakdown of the articular cartilage on either the ball of the humeral head or inside the shoulder socket.

If you are experiencing pain in your shoulder, schedule an appointment with JIS Orthopedics today. We have offices conveniently located in New Albany and St. Clairsville, OH. Our shoulder specialists can help you find pain relief so that you can continue to use your shoulder in everyday activities.

Types of Shoulder Arthritis

There are many different types of shoulder arthritis. Each type has its own cause. Below are some of the different types of shoulder arthritis.

Osteoarthritis of the Shoulder

Osteoarthritis is also referred to as degenerative joint disease. The condition usually comes with age and is often associated with wear and tear of the joint.

Rheumatoid Arthritis of the Shoulder

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. This means that your body attacks its healthy cells, which can include the cartilage in the joint. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, both shoulders can be affected.

Post-Traumatic Arthritis of the Shoulder

This develops after an injury, such as a fracture, dislocation, or another serious form of injury to the shoulder. Eventually, this damage can cause the cartilage surface to wear out and disappear.

Rotary Cuff Tear Arthropathy

This type of arthritis can develop after a severe rotator cuff tear. You have four rotator cuff tendons responsible for holding the “ball” of the shoulder joint in place. If any of these tendons are heavily torn, it may cause the humeral head to elevate, creating increased pressure on the ball and socket. This pressure will usually lead to arthritis.

Shoulder Arthritis Due to Avascular Necrosis

This condition is also known as osteonecrosis. This condition refers to the “death” of part of the “ball” of your shoulder. This is commonly seen as a result of trauma or disease, cutting off the blood flow to the bone. Without strong bone support, the cartilage weakens, and eventually, the shoulder joint breaks down.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Shoulder Arthritis?

There are some common signs and symptoms of shoulder arthritis regardless of the type you have. The severity of your symptoms will depend on the amount of cartilage lost in your shoulder joint. You may have the following symptoms:

  • Shoulder Pain: You may experience mild to severe pain in the front, back, or sides of your shoulder joint. Pain is usually felt while the shoulder is in motion. However, some even have pain while the shoulder is at rest. The pain is generally felt during heavy lifting, carrying, or after exercise. The pain can radiate down the arm and, in some cases, as far as the elbow or wrist.
  • Shoulder Stiffness: You may experience a decreased range of motion in your shoulder. You may find that as the condition worsens, you can do less with your shoulder. Stiffness is not always present with shoulder arthritis.
  • Crepitus: This symptom is defined as a clicking, grinding, or snapping sound as you move your shoulder. Crepitus can be painful and sometimes loud enough for other people to hear. Occasionally, you may feel the shoulder slide in certain positions due to the bone surfaces no longer being smooth.

How Is Shoulder Arthritis Diagnosed?

To diagnose shoulder arthritis, your doctor will perform a physical examination. You will also be asked about your medical history and the symptoms you might be experiencing.

In some cases, they may even perform an X-ray to get detailed pictures of bone structure. Your doctor will look for the following symptoms during the physical examination:

  • Weakness in the muscles
  • Tenderness to touch
  • Extent of passive and active range of motion
  • Signs of injury surrounding the joint
  • Crepitus
  • Pain when pressure is placed on the joint.

Shoulder Arthritis Treatment

There are several treatment options for shoulder arthritis pain relief. Treatments include non-surgical and surgical treatments. The orthopedic surgeons at JIS Orthopedics will use the best options to treat your arthritis.

Non-Surgical Treatments for Shoulder Arthritis

Treatment for shoulder arthritis typically begins with non-surgical methods. Your doctor may recommend range of motion exercises, lifestyle modifications, and a few options to provide pain relief.

  • Pain Relief — Applying ice to your shoulder 3 to 4 times daily can help reduce inflammation and pain. Some like to use a heat application before exercise to help loosen up the shoulder joint.
    You can also use over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or Naproxen (Aleve). All these medications are effective choices to alleviate short-term pain.
    Cortisone injections are also effective in reducing pain and inflammation but may need to be reapplied throughout the year.
  • Physical Therapy — Physical therapy can help restore the range of motion in your shoulder and strengthen the muscles and rotator cuff tendons that support the joint.
  • Lifestyle Modifications — Your doctor may recommend a few lifestyle modifications as a part of your treatment. This may mean avoiding activities that cause shoulder pain, including lifting heavy objects, golfing, swimming, and any other activities that put stress on the shoulder.

Surgical Treatment for Shoulder Arthritis

If non-surgical treatment methods do not seem to be working, then your doctor may recommend some form of shoulder surgery to treat arthritis.

Arthroscopic Shoulder Debridement

This is a minimally invasive operation requiring anesthesia. During this procedure, a small camera is inserted through small incisions in your shoulder, allowing the surgeon to see and remove any loose fragments of damaged cartilage in the shoulder joint.

The procedure can also be used to repair damaged tendons. No bone spurs are removed during this procedure as they are not the cause of arthritis.

Once finished, the pain should be relieved significantly. However, this operation does not provide a permanent solution. This type of surgery is typically reserved for patients with mild arthritis and pain also coming from torn tendons.

Shoulder Joint Replacement (Arthroplasty)

In more serious cases, shoulder arthritis can be treated with shoulder replacement surgery. In this form of surgery, damaged parts of the shoulder are removed and replaced with artificial ones, also known as prostheses.

The following are some of the different forms of shoulder replacement surgery that can be executed:

  • Hemiarthroplasty — The head of the humerus is replaced by an artificial component.
  • Standard Total Shoulder Replacement — Both the head of the humerus and glenoid are replaced.
  • Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement — This procedure works better for people with cuff tear arthropathy because it relies on different muscles to move the arm.

Address Your Shoulder Pain Today

If you are experiencing pain in your shoulder, schedule an appointment with JIS Orthopedics today! We have offices conveniently located in New Albany and St. Clairsville, OH. Our shoulder specialists have the skills to properly diagnose your symptoms and give you the treatment you need.

Medically reviewed by AJ Julka, MD

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