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Shoulder Arthritis - Overview - Nonsurgical Options -

Shoulder Arthritis

Shoulder Arthritis

Overview

According to the National Health Interview Survey, more than 50 million Americans were diagnosed with some type of arthritis in 2011. Shoulder arthritis is the inflammation of one or more joints and can cause pain, limited motion, and stiffness.

Types of Shoulder Arthritis

In terms of shoulder arthritis, there are five major types:

    1. Osteoarthritis or Wear and Tear Arthritis 
    2. Post-traumatic Arthritis​ 
    3. Rotator Cuff Tear Arthropathy​
    4. Avascular Necrosis (AVN)​
    5. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)

Osteoarthritis or Wear and Tear Arthritis

This arthritis generally affects those over the age of 50 years old. Osteoarthritis causes the destruction of the smooth outer covering of bone. Damaged cartilage is frayed and rough. This decreases the protective space between the bones.

Post-Traumatic Arthritis

This type of arthritis is not only chronic but also symmetrical, which means it will affect the same joint on both sides of your body. The lining of our joints called synovium swells which causes pain and stiffness. RA attacks its own tissues making it an autoimmune disease. Since it’s an autoimmune disease, this means our defenses which are normally used to protect us from infection are instead used to attack and damage normal tissue and soften bone.

Rotator Cuff Tear Arthropathy

You may experience arthritis after a major injury to your rotator cuff tear. Your tear may no longer be able to hold your arm bone (humerus) in the socket (glenoid socket) which causes your arm bone to move upward rubbing on your acromion. In the process, the surface of your bone becomes damaged causing arthritis. If you have this type of arthritis you may be experiencing excruciating pain, weakness and you may not be able to lift your arm from the side.

Avascular Necrosis (AVN)

This type of arthritis begins by only affecting the head of the arm (humerus) bone, but as it progresses the head begins to collapse which causes damage to the glenoid socket. The damage can cause a lack of blood supply to the bone which causes bone cells to die. This can lead to the destruction of the shoulder joint and arthritis. AVN can be attributed to heavy alcohol consumption, steroid use, sickle cell disease, or a traumatic injury. 

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

This type of arthritis is not only chronic but also symmetrical, which means it will affect the same joint on both sides of your body. The lining of our joints called synovium swells which causes pain and stiffness. RA attacks its own tissues making it an autoimmune disease. Since it’s an autoimmune disease, this means our defenses which are normally used to protect us from infection are instead used to attack and damage normal tissue and soften bone.

Nonsurgical Treatment Options for Shoulder Arthritis

There isn’t a cure for arthritis however, there are many treatment options available. These treatments can assist in managing pain and allow you to remain active.

  • Rest. The obvious treatment is to rest and avoid activities that may provoke pain.
  • Physical Therapy. In addition to avoiding activities that cause you to lift your arm, you may be asked to rest and wear a sling to stabilize your shoulder.
  • Anti-inflammatory Medication. Through the use of drugs such as ibuprofen and Advil, you may be able to reduce pain and swelling.
  • Steroid Injection. A stronger anti-inflammatory medication known as a steroid might be suggested if you’ve tried the options above, but you are still experiencing pain.
  • Moist Heat. You can use a warm compress in order to warm the muscle and joint.
  • Ice​. Icing your shoulder for 20-30 minutes at least twice a day can reduce your pain and inflammation.
  • Anti-Rheumatic Medication. ​If you have RA, you may try methotrexate a disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD).
  • Dietary Supplements​. You may take glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate to relieve pain.