Shoulder Arthritis

Understanding Your Condition

What is shoulder arthritis?

The shoulder is made up of the glenohumeral joint, the large ball-and-socket joint of the shoulder, as well as the acromioclavicular (AC) joint, which is smaller and less mobile. Shoulder arthritis occurs when the cartilage in these joints wears down.

What are the causes and symptoms of shoulder arthritis?

Shoulder arthritis can initially be caused by several things. Osteoarthritis is degenerative joint disease associated with wear and tear. This type of arthritis is often related to age and is the most common type. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that involves the body attacking its own cells. Post-traumatic arthritis occurs with injury, as does shoulder arthritis due to rotator cuff tear arthropathy. Rotator cuff tear arthropathy can develop after a rotator cuff tear when the tendons are heavily torn and the humeral head rubs against other bones. Avascular necrosis can occur when there is a disrupted blood supply to the shoulder resulting in necrosis. Without a blood supply, the shoulder bone collapses becoming uneven and causing the development of arthritis.

Symptoms of shoulder arthritis include pain in the joint in the front, back or side. Pain can also radiate throughout the arm. Patients may also notice stiffness and a loss of range of motion which can limit activities and mobility.

How is shoulder arthritis diagnosed and treated?

In order to diagnose shoulder arthritis a healthcare provider may conduct a physical exam and obtain diagnostic tests such as x-rays, CT scan, or MRI. Treatment for shoulder arthritis varies depending on the severity. Physicians may recommend physical therapy in order to help with range of motion and regaining mobility. They may also recommend icing or heating the area, along with certain medications that can control pain and reduce any inflammation. Cortisone injections may also be helpful to reduce inflammation and help with pain. Surgery may be recommended if the patient has persistent pain and dysfunction despite conservative treatment.

Make an appointment with Mobility Bone & Joint Institute to understand your options. Please call (978) 794-1946 or (603) 898-2244 immediately to schedule an appointment or take advantage of our walk-in clinic in Haverhill and Andover Monday – Friday 8am-12pm and 1pm-3pm.

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