Shoulder arthritis is caused by a deterioration of cartilage that happens over time as a result of joint movement. Cartilage coats the inside of joints and in effect keeps the bones from rubbing together. The normal wear and tear of life, accidents, or the brisk tempo of sports and other physical activity, can contribute to the wearing down and loss of our cartilage and the development of arthritis.
Once areas of the bone are in contact in arthritis, patients typically feel pain, grinding, and catching whenever the joint moves. At that point, many patients present to us for treatment options.
In the course of a lifetime, your shoulder joint, called the glenohumeral joint, is constantly in motion. Pain and loss of motion are two of the early signs that arthritis may be setting in. This pain can initially be felt during activity but can gradually become present even at rest.
How quickly the arthritis progresses depends on a variety of factors, including lifestyle, occupation, and even genetics. As the arthritis becomes more severe, you may feel pain in the arm itself, going down to the elbow or wrist. The pain may be accompanied by stiffness and gradual loss of range of motion.
Shoulder arthritis, like the arthritis in other joints like the hip or knee, is typically treated with non-invasive solutions. Usually an exercise regimen is the first step. Physical therapy is helpful in this stage.
The avoidance of inciting activities such as heavy lifting or high impact sports can decrease the symptoms of shoulder arthritis. For temporary relief, both hot and cold compresses can be effective.
If initial steps have not significantly improved the symptoms, it may be time to consider injections of cortisone, hyaluronic acid, or PRP into the shoulder. Cortisone targets inflammation and can relieve symptoms for several weeks to several months. Hyaluronic acid is a normal constituent of the joint and acts as a lubricant and anti-inflammatory medication. PRP is a concentrate from the blood and has anti-inflammatory properties in the joint.
Advance arthritis of the shoulder is often treated with shoulder replacement or reverse shoulder replacement surgery. If you decide to undergo one of these types of surgery, you will need to make time for your recovery. These surgeries provide amazing immediate pain relief; so much so that we often have to tell patients to slow down. The muscles and tendons take 4-6 weeks to fully heal, and patients can do damage to the prosthesis if they are too aggressive with their shoulder.
For more information on shoulder arthritis treatment, please request an appointment with Dr. Jamali. Call or email Joint Preservation Institute today to schedule your visit to our Sacramento or Walnut Creek office.