Osteoarthritis of the Shoulder

Osteoarthritis of the Shoulder

Osteoarthritis of the shoulder is a painful degenerative joint condition. This article will walk you through how it develops and what can be done to treat it.

Overview of osteoarthritis of the shoulder

A healthy shoulder joint involves the intersection of the upper arm bone (humerus) and the socket of the shoulder blade (glenoid). This glenohumeral joint is supported by a thick band of muscle and tendons that all work together to perform normal shoulder movements.

Between the bones that compose the shoulder joint, there is a layer of articular cartilage that protects and cushions the joint, allowing the bones to glide smoothly. Over time, this protective cartilage can begin to wear away. The lack of cartilage leads the bones of the joint to rub against each other and creates painful friction in the joint.

Osteoarthritis of the shoulder is the condition that develops from this gradual wear-and-tear of the shoulder joint. It is a common condition that is often associated with pain and difficulty with normal shoulder movements.

There is another important shoulder joint that is formed by the top of the shoulder blade and the collarbone: the acromioclavicular joint. Both joints in the shoulder can develop osteoarthritis from the wearing away of their protective cartilage.

Causes of osteoarthritis of the shoulder

Common causes of osteoarthritis include

  •       Age-related wear-and-tear
  •       Repetitive stress that strains the joints (sports like swimming or tennis can stress the shoulder joint)
  •       Family history of osteoarthritis
  •       Injury to the shoulder joint

Osteoarthritis most commonly develops in older adults whose cartilage has suffered from general wear-and-tear over time.

Symptoms of osteoarthritis of the shoulder

Osteoarthritis is typically a painful condition that can lead to a variety of symptoms, including

  •       Pain in the shoulder joint (the pain may come and go depending on your activity level)
  •       Tenderness
  •       Inflammation or swelling of the joint
  •       Difficulty moving the shoulder normally
  •       Limited range of motion

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, seek medical attention to see how you can get relief from the pain and frustration of osteoarthritis of the shoulder.

Treatments for osteoarthritis of the shoulder

Osteoarthritis of the shoulder is a frustrating condition, but luckily, there are several different treatment methods to help patients find relief.

The first line of treatment is often non-surgical and may involve:

  •       Rest (limiting physical activity that strains the joint)
  •       Ice to relieve inflammation
  •       Physical therapy exercises that stretch and strengthen the affected shoulder
  •       Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pain relievers
  •       Corticosteroid injections to relief inflammation

If these are not effective or if the osteoarthritis is severe, an orthopaedic specialist may recommend surgery as a treatment.

The two most common surgical procedures are

  •       Shoulder arthroscopy: In this procedure, a surgeon will make a small incision in the shoulder to insert a small camera that projects onto a screen in the operating room. The surgeon can then use narrow instruments to repair the damaged joint based on the camera’s view inside the joint.
  •       Shoulder arthroplasty (a shoulder replacement): In this procedure, the damaged bone surfaces that form the shoulder joint are replaced with artificial surfaces that allow the joint to resume normal, smooth movements.

Treating osteoarthritis of the shoulder at OAR

At OAR, we understand how difficult it can be to live with osteoarthritis of the shoulder. Our team of experienced orthopaedic specialists are ready to work with you to find a treatment plan that meets your individual needs and helps you get back to doing the things you love.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of osteoarthritis,book an appointment with us today to see how we can help you find relief.

Only a doctor can tell you if you have this ailment. This is for informational purposes and should not be used in lieu of a doctor’s opinion.

Contact us today!