Shoulder Arthritis Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments
Arthritis is inflammation of the joint. In an arthritic shoulder, inflammation causes pain and stiffness. There are several different kinds of arthritis that can affect the shoulder, most commonly, Osteoarthritis (wear and tear), Rheumatoid Arthritis (inflammatory), and rotator cuff tear arthropathy. There are many different treatment options available, allowing most individuals to manage their pain and remain active.
Arthritis can occur due to many different factors, and causes degeneration of the joint surfaces which leads to pain. Osteoarthritis (OA) is most common, usually affecting those age 50 or older. This results in pain with movement of the arm and shoulder. Rheumatoid Arthritis can also cause breakdown of the joint surfaces in the shoulder, leading to pain. Arthritis can also develop after a chronic rotator cuff tear. The torn rotator cuff can no longer hold the arm in the correct position and this can cause the joint to rub together and wear down quickly. There are other, less common causes of arthritis of the shoulder that can also be diagnosed with the help of our orthopedic providers.
The most common symptom of arthritis is pain. It is usually described as achy and is located in the shoulder joint, but can occasionally cause sharp shooting pain down the affected arm. The other common symptom of arthritis is decreased range of motion. The joint breakdown causes limited movement and you may hear or feel popping, clicking, grinding or clunking.
During the physical examination, your doctor will assess your range of motion, look for other signs of arthritis (tenderness to touch, joint popping, grinding) and pain. They will also likely utilize x-ray to see the bones in great detail and determine how much wear has occurred in the joint.
There are many options to treat arthritic conditions with both non-surgical and surgical interventions to help reduce pain and restore function.
- Rest/activity modification
- Physical Therapy
- NSAIDs and other anti-inflammatories
- Corticosteroid injections
- Arthroscopy – Cleaning out the inside of the joint
- Anatomic Shoulder Replacement – Both the head of the humerus (arm) and the glenoid (shoulder) are replaced. A cup is fitted into the shoulder, and a ball attached to the top of the arm.
- Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement- The socket and metal ball are opposite an anatomic total shoulder arthroplasty. A reverse total shoulder replacement works better for people with cuff tear arthropathy because it relies on different muscles – not the rotator cuff – to move the arm.