The most common form of shoulder arthritis is osteoarthritis. Many people assume that osteoarthritis is age-related and is a degenerative joint disease that only affects older people. But, while it is true that older people are at a higher risk for developing this disease, it is not a condition only affecting elderly people.
Shoulder arthritis takes place when the cartilage around the shoulder joint breaks down and leads to inflammation. This will cause pain and swelling and possibly decreased range of motion. The cartilage is a rubbery type material which is located around the ends of each bone inside of your shoulder joint.
The cartilage is made up of proteins and water and it serves the purpose of absorbing shock to your joints while decreasing friction during movement. The quality with which the cartilage actually absorbs shock is derived from its ability to physically change its shape and move around the exterior of your bones to protect it in whatever shape and size is best. But it cannot do this without significant water content. And if the cartilage is damaged at some point it may not be able to repair itself and produce new cartilage.
When the cartilage is no longer able to produce new cartilage (or slows down significantly) the flexibility and the shock absorbing aspects start to dwindle. When this happens it causes inflammation in your shoulder joint which can lead to a high risk of further injury and pain.
Patients who experience shoulder arthritis can have difficulty doing regular things like lifting their arms above their head reaching for things on the shelf or, for athletes, throwing and catching. The pain can be something very dull or it can be something stabbing and sharp.
What causes shoulder arthritis?
The causes of shoulder arthritis are not explicitly known but there are some factors which contribute significantly to the development of it including joint injuries, genetic defects, and extreme stress put on the joints, and being overweight. Athletes who regularly stress their shoulder joints are at a higher risk of developing shoulder arthritis.
What are the symptoms?
Stiffness will start to occur inside of your shoulder joint whenever you use your arm for an extended period of time or hold it in a position for long period of time. Eventually you may develop tenderness or swelling in your shoulder or feel an actual rubbing of the bones against one another. If you’re unable to move your shoulder when you try to perform regular daily activities this could be a serious sign of shoulder arthritis.
How is it diagnosed?
An x-ray can show features of a narrowing joint inside of your shoulder and if your doctor sees this they will check on the functionality and test for your loss of motion.
The treatment for shoulder arthritis is to improve mobility and lifestyle. Purpose of this is to regain function of your shoulder and to control your pain. The treatment that you have might include physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, steroid or stem cell injections.
Dr. Adam Farber is a top shoulder specialist in Phoenix and is Board Certified and Fellowship Trained. If you or a loved one is suffering from shoulder pain, seek the help from a top Shoulder doctor in the Valley!
Call (480) 219-3342.