by Dr. Adam Farber
Osteoarthritis is the most common arthritis that results from the wear and tear of the cartilage that cushions the joint. Researchers and scientists are not completely sure what causes shoulder arthritis, although there is some link to genetics, obesity and lifestyle. Risk factors include age, weight, work factors and gender (women develop arthritis more than men).
There are many myths around shoulder arthritis. Let’s debunk 8 of those myths.
Myth #1 Rand and damp weather will make arthritis worse.
Fact – Many believe that twinge in the joint can predict it’s going to rain, but there is actually no scientific evidence that humidity or dampness makes arthritis symptoms worse.
Myth #2 All shoulder pain is arthritis.
Fact – Other conditions can cause shoulder pain. Just because your shoulder aches doesn’t mean it is arthritis. You should see a rheumatologist for the correct diagnosis and/or treatment.
Myth #3 You should take it easy when your arthritis is acting up.
Fact – Regular exercise can help your shoulder arthritis as long as you use common sense and don’t overdo it. You might need a short rest period followed by moderate activity to strengthen your joint and improve your range of motion. Your doctor can recommend what type of exercises might be best for you.
Myth #4 Nightshade vegetables like eggplant or grapefruits will cure your arthritis.
Fact – The fact of the matter is that changing your diet will have no effect on your arthritis. There is no cure for arthritis. Only medications and changes to your lifestyle that can reduce your symptoms.
Myth #5 Supplements such as glucosamine will benefit your shoulder arthritis.
Fact – Glucosamine has been proven to benefit only a subset of osteoarthritis sufferers, perhaps by stimulating the growth of cartilage that’s worn out. For most arthritis sufferers it makes no difference. You can try taking glucosamine if you like and see if you notice a different. If not, stop using it and save yourself some money.
Myth #6 Ice is less helpful than heat for your sore shoulder.
Fact – Both hot and cold therapy is helpful with shoulder arthritis. When you apply ice at night it can ease the inflammation from your daily activities. When you apply heat in the morning it can help to relax your shoulder muscles that are stiff to move.
Myth #7 Arthritis only affects those who are aging.
Fact – Arthritis will affect all ages. The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, the kind that is a result of wear and tear to your shoulder joint. Rheumatoid arthritis can occur at any age and it’s actually quite common in children.
Myth #8 There is no treatment for your shoulder arthritis.
Fact – There are medications that can reduce symptoms. Physical therapy can help to increase movement. There are times when you may require shoulder surgery if the joint damage is major. Many times a doctor will use a combination of treatments and medications to maximize the benefits. It can take some trial and error to find the best combinations.
Now that you’ve had 8 common shoulder arthritis myths debunked, you are a little wiser with your condition. Shoulder surgeons can answer any questions you might have. Dr. Adam Farber of Phoenix Shoulder and Knee is one of the top orthopedic surgeons in Scottsdale and Phoenix. He offers minimally invasive shoulder treatments including arthroscopy for rotator cuff tears, biceps injuries, labral tears and more. He is a team surgeon for numerous sports teams in the Valley.