When Arthritis Settles in Your Shoulder

HYANNIS – Arthritis is a type of joint that results from inflammation of one or more joints in the body. Although many are familiar with the various ailments that can cause knee and hip pain, few may realize that shoulder pain is often the result of shoulder arthritis.

Osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease is the most common type of shoulder arthritis and is characterized by progressive wearing away of the cartilage of the joint. As the protective cartilage surface of the joint is worn away by shoulder arthritis, bare bone is exposed in the shoulder.

Other types of arthritis that can commonly affect the shoulder include rheumatoid arthritis and post-traumatic arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic condition that causes inflammation of the lining of the joints. This inflammation can, over time, invade and destroy the cartilage and bone. Post-traumatic arthritis is a form of osteoarthritis that develops after an injury such as a fracture or dislocation of the shoulder.

Shoulder arthritis typically affects patients over 50 years of age and some symptoms include:

  • Pain with activities
  • A limitation in motion
  • Stiffness of the shoulder
  • Tenderness around the shoulder
  • A feeling of grinding or “catching” in the shoulder

There are a wide variety of treatment options for shoulder arthritis. These options include:

  • Activity modification, physical therapy
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Cortisone or steroid injections
  • Joint supplements
  • Shoulder arthroscopy
  • Joint replacement surgery

Not all treatments are appropriate in every patient and choosing the right treatment with your orthopaedic surgeon is a patient-specific process with many variables.

When shoulder replacement is appropriate, individuals can expect a decrease in pain and an increase in motion, thus improving their quality of life.

By JESSE AFFONSO, M.D., Cape Cod Health News

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