Arthritis simply defined refers to inflammation of one or more of your joints. An arthritic shoulder causes the patient pain and stiffness. There are two joints in the shoulder which may be affected by arthritis; one where the clavicle meets the tip of the shoulder blade (the AC joint) the other where the upper arm bone fits into the shoulder blade (known as the glenohumeral joint).
As well as determining which joint is affected, there are also five major types of arthritis that can affect the shoulder. These include;
- Osteoarthritis: Known as ‘wear and tear’ arthritis and protective space between bones decreases
- Rheumatoid arthritis: Chronic disease which affects multiple joints throughout body and is an autoimmune disease
- Post traumatic arthritis: Develops after an injury such as a fracture
- Rotator cuff tear arthropathy: Develops after a large, longstanding rotator cuff tendon tear
- Avascular necrosis: occurs when blood supply to head of the humerus becomes disrupted.
Pain is the most common symptom of arthritis in the shoulder and is generally aggravated by activity and gets progressively worse over time. In addition, a limited range of motion is another common symptom and it can become difficult to lift your arm and may also experience a grinding sound as you move your shoulder.
Initial treatment generally begins with non-surgical measures and may include; rest, physiotherapy, anti-inflammatory medication and corticosteroid injections.
Following a course of non-surgical treatment, if pain has not been relieved surgical options may be offered. These options can vary from an arthroscopy which helps clean out the inside of the joint to provide some pain relieved (however does not eliminate the arthritis from the joint) through to shoulder joint replacement surgery in which the damaged parts of the shoulder are removed and replaced with artificial components.
Surgical treatment of arthritis in the shoulder can be very effective in reducing pain and assisting in increasing range of motion, with recovery time and rehabilitation programs dependent upon the type of surgery performed.