The shoulder is made up of a number of bones, ligaments, and tendons. If you have been lifting unusually heavy loads or have sat for long periods, it may not be unusual to feel some pain in your shoulder. But when does the pain go from an overuse injury to arthritis? How do you know if your shoulder is injured or if it is due to a chronic condition? If you have pain and have not been doing activities where you have strained yourself or sustained an injury, it could be shoulder arthritis.
If you have shoulder arthritis, you may feel pain when you are lifting, reaching above your head, or even brushing your hair. It can make it difficult to conduct the common, everyday functions that you previously have been able to do comfortably. Though shoulder arthritis can be painful, most people are able to function by managing their pain, and NJ Spine & Orthopedic can help you figure out what treatment options are best for your symptoms.
Find your condition with our 2-minute Condition Checker.
There are several types of shoulder arthritis, and your doctor will be able to help you determine what kind of arthritis you need treatment for. A few common types of shoulder arthritis include:
This type of arthritis is seen most often from overuse. It is likely found in athletes or as a result of genetics and age. In this form of shoulder arthritis, the cartilage, that smooth outer covering of the bone, is worn out. It will show signs of wear, may start to fray, and will eventually disappear. As the cartilage begins to disappear, the bones in the joint, without the protective covering, start to rub against each other, causing a painful grinding. You may sometimes hear the term “bone-on-bone,” which occurs when there is no longer any cartilage left.
When arthritis in the shoulder is caused by inflammation due to an autoimmune condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), the inflammation that comes along with the disease will eventually wear out the cartilage. Many patients with rheumatoid arthritis have pain and discomfort in their hands, fingers, legs, and other joints. Medication for RA has proven to be beneficial in controlling inflammatory arthritis in most cases, including in the shoulder.
People who suffer from severe rotator cuff tears can ultimately end up with this type of shoulder arthritis if the tears are prolonged and severe. This is not common, but does happen sometimes because once the tendons disappear, the joint will move, causing bone-on-bone activity.
Also sometimes called avascular necrosis, this is the result of the blood supply to the bone forming the ball of the shoulder getting cut off, leading to that part of the bone actually dying. There are many things that may cause osteonecrosis such as heavy steroid use, alcoholism, or traumatic injuries.
If you think you have shoulder arthritis, you should always present your symptoms to your doctor. They can assist you with a diagnosis and treatment options.
The first and most common symptom of shoulder arthritis is pain. The pain worsens when there is activity that involves the shoulder and gets worse and more frequent over time. It is common to feel pain at night, which may cause you to have trouble sleeping.
Many people find that in addition to pain, they also experience stiffness at the joint and a limited range of motion. You may find that it is difficult to reach shelves above your head or raise your arms for simple grooming.
Another symptom that you may encounter with shoulder arthritis is a clicking sound when using the shoulder joint. Some describe the sound as that of grinding while others say it is a snapping sound. Some people never hear a sound at all, while often, it can be heard by others.
Discover which treatment options are right for you with our Treatment Finder.
Once your doctor has determined the type and severity of your shoulder arthritis, they may recommend some of the following options.
The first treatment for shoulder arthritis is non-surgical treatment. This usually involves physical therapy exercises in order to keep the shoulder mobile. You may be referred to a physical or occupational therapist who will design a program that combines stretching and mobility.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can also be taken to reduce pain and inflammation. There are over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen.
Ice and heat may alternately help with the pain from inflammation, while corticosteroid injections in the shoulder can provide temporary relief from pain and inflammation.
Arthroscopy is a minimally-invasive operation that involves a small camera that is placed inside the joint through a small incision. This is recommended for patients with an early diagnosis of shoulder arthritis. If there is any cartilage remaining, you may get pain relief from this procedure.
Advanced shoulder arthritis may require the replacement of the shoulder joint. Implants are introduced to create new joint surfaces, and the two new surfaces relieve the pain caused by bone-on-bone rubbing.
Don’t let the pain of shoulder arthritis keep you from being active and maintaining your quality of life. If your shoulder pain is making it difficult for you to perform routine daily activities, there are minimally-invasive solutions that can relieve your pain and get you on the way to regaining your active lifestyle. At NJ Spine & Orthopedic, we listen to your concerns and work to find the best solution for your pain
Above all, your safety and comfort are important to us. We provide the most advanced treatment options along with ground-breaking technologies to relieve your pain and get you on the road to recovery. Our compassionate Concierge Team will help you with all the details for your treatment. Contact us online or call us today at (866) 553-0612 for a free consultation.
Determine your eligibility with our Candidacy Verification.