More than 50 million Americans suffer from some form of arthritis. Arthritis is the inflammation of one or more of your joints. When in the shoulder, the disease causes pain and stiffness. Although there is no cure for arthritis of the shoulder, there are a number of treatment option which usually allows patients to manage pain and remain active.
There are five types of arthritis which typically affect the shoulder. Osteoarthritis, also known as “wear-and-tear” arthritis, which destroys the outer covering of the bone causes the bones in the joint to rub against each other resulting in pain and inflammation. This type of arthritis usually affects patients over the age of 50 and is incredibly common.
The second type of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, is a chronic disease which attacks multiple joints in the body. The disease is symmetrical, meaning that if a joint on the left side of the body is affected, the same joint on the opposite side will also be affected. Rheumatoid arthritis causes the lining of the joint to swell, resulting in pain and stiffness of the joint. This type of arthritis is an autoimmune disease, which means that the defenses intended to protect the body from infection instead damage normal tissue and soften the bone.
Posttraumatic arthritis and rotator cuff tear arthropathy, are both diseases which develop after an injury such as a fracture of the shoulder or long-standing rotator cuff injury. Finally, avascular necrosis is a painful condition where the blood supply to the head of the humerus is disrupted. AVN can lead to a destruction of the shoulder joint. This condition develops in stages and can damage multiple parts of the shoulder joint as it progresses. AVN is caused by high steroid use, heavy alcohol use, sickle cell disease and/or traumatic injury, such as a fracture to the shoulder.
Shoulder arthritis symptoms range from inflammation and pain to limited range-of-motion and difficulty moving the shoulder joint. Pain due to arthritis is aggravated by activity, and in some cases may make sleeping difficult.
Arthritis is typically treated non-surgically with physical therapy, rest, lifestyle changes, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication and/or corticosteroid injection. Patients may also relieve pain and swelling with heat and ice, two-three times per day. In rare, severe cases doctors may consider surgery if your pain causes severe disability and is not relieved with other treatment options.