Shoulder arthritis occurs when cartilage wears down on the ball and/or socket sides of the shoulder joint, causing pain, stiffness, and limited range of motion. Nonoperative treatments for shoulder arthritis include stretches, lifestyle changes, and medication.
How does shoulder arthritis develop?
Cartilage is a smooth, living tissue that covers the surface of the bones inside the joints, similar to Teflon on a ball bearing. If cartilage is healthy, it can withstand multiple rotations without wearing down the surface.
Causes and Types of Shoulder Arthritis
Shoulder arthritis comes in a variety of forms, each with its own set of causes.
Osteoarthritis of the Shoulder
Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, is the most common form of arthritis and can affect other joints besides the shoulder. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder in which your body attacks its own healthy cells. This inflammatory arthritis can affect both shoulders at the same time.
Rotator Cuff Tear Arthropathy
Arthropathy is a type of shoulder arthritis that can develop after a rotator cuff tear. Rotator cuff tendons wrap around the ball portion of the shoulder joint, and if one or more of them is torn, the humeral head may rub against other bones.
Shoulder Arthritis Due to Avascular Necrosis
The humeral head may lose blood supply due to disease, traumatic injuries, or other causes, resulting in the area dying (necrosis). Without a blood supply, the bone will gradually collapse, becoming uneven and causing arthritis.
Shoulder Arthritis Symptoms
The amount of cartilage loss varies from person to person, and arthritis pain can strike at any time of day, with or without shoulder stiffness. Grinding, clicking, or cracking (crepitus) may be heard due to the irregular surface of the cartilage in arthritis.
Shoulder Arthritis Diagnosis
To diagnose shoulder arthritis, a doctor will perform a physical exam and ask you questions about your symptoms and medical history. The degree of arthritis and the amount of bone in the socket can be assessed and confirmed with an X-ray or, if necessary, a CT scan.
Arthritis causes gradual loss of motion in the shoulder joint, which can be difficult to notice. As the joint stiffens, the pain and ability to be active may worsen. Strengthening the shoulder joint with arthritis is usually not recommended, as it may cause more pain.
The second medical treatment is to avoid, within reason, the things that make the shoulder painful. If you are experiencing pain while playing golf, it may be necessary to cut down to once a week instead of daily. In general, anything that causes pain should be avoided, especially if the pain interferes with your life.
Ice packs can be used once or several times a day to relieve pain, but some people believe that heat is a better treatment for shoulder arthritis pain. Medication can also be used to relieve pain, but each has its own set of benefits and risks.
Which medication can I use for my shoulder arthritis?
You could start with acetaminophen, which has few side effects, and then move on to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which should be avoided if you have a history of bleeding or ulcers or are taking blood thinners.
Injections for Shoulder Arthritis
Cortisone shots, which may increase the risk of infection if you have a total shoulder replacement soon after the shot, and hyaluronic acid, which has been injected into arthritic knees for many years, are the two types of injections that can provide pain relief for shoulder arthritis.
When nonsurgical treatments no longer work, you may need surgery, which will depend on your age and the severity of your arthritis.
Arthroscopic Shoulder Debridement
Debridement is a minimally invasive procedure that “cleans out” (debrides) the shoulder joint. It is recommended for patients with lower grades of arthritis and is not recommended when there is bone-on-bone traction.
What are the signs of arthritis in the shoulder?
Shoulder Arthritis Symptoms
- Pain during activities.
- Limited range of motion.
- Shoulder stiffness.
- Joint swelling.
- Tenderness around the joint.
- A sensation of grinding or catching within the joint.
What does rheumatoid arthritis in the shoulder feel like?
If you have RA, you may experience pain in both shoulders at the same time, as well as tenderness and warmth in your joints, as well as a stiff feeling in your shoulders, especially in the morning.
What type of arthritis affects the shoulder?
The most common type of shoulder arthritis is osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease. Rheumatoid arthritis (inflammatory) and traumatic arthritis are less common types of shoulder arthritis.
What does bursitis in the shoulder feel like?
Patients with infected bursitis often complain of excessive warmth at the site of the inflamed bursa, as well as tenderness, pain, and fever. Swelling and redness may spread away from the affected site and up or down the arm.
How should I sleep with arthritis in my shoulders?
Sleeping on the unaffected side and sleeping on your back are the best sleeping positions for a sore shoulder. If you’re sleeping on your side, keep your neck and back straight to avoid unnecessary strain.
What is end stage arthritis of the shoulder?
On x-ray, the space narrows as the cartilage disappears, and in the end stage, the ball’s bone can be seen directly against the socket’s bone; in addition, bone spurs (osteophytes) that develop around the joint margins are common in some types of arthritis.
What are the 5 worst foods to eat if you have arthritis?
Foods to stay away from
- Trans fats should be avoided because they can cause or worsen inflammation and are bad for your cardiovascular health.
- Gluten. Avoiding gluten is more than just a health trend.
- Refined Carbs and White Sugar.
- Processed and Fried Foods.
- Garlic and Onions.
- Citrus Fruit.
What causes shoulder pain that radiates down the arm?
When a nerve in the neck is compressed or irritated where it branches away from the spinal cord, it is known as cervical radiculopathy, and it can cause pain that radiates into the shoulder and/or arm, as well as muscle weakness and numbness.
What happens if arthritis is left untreated?
If left untreated, long-term damage to the joints can occur, with fibrous tissue forming around the joints and bones fusing together, resulting in deformity and loss of mobility.
Is exercise good for shoulder arthritis?
Regular exercise will keep the shoulder joints active, which can have a noticeable impact on reducing pain and improving range of motion in this area of the body. When arthritis is more advanced, people may experience severe pain and reduced movement in the affected shoulder joints.
When should I go to the doctor for shoulder pain?
If the pain is severe or you have trouble moving your shoulder and using your arm, or the sensation in your arm, hand, or fingers is abnormal, you should see your doctor as soon as possible. If you can’t get a same-day appointment, go to an urgent care clinic if possible.
How should I sleep with shoulder pain?
Try out these positions:
- Lie flat on your back with your injured arm propped up with a pillow. Using a pillow may help reduce stress and pressure on your injured side. Lie on your uninjured side.
What do doctors prescribe for bursitis?
The pain and inflammation of bursitis can be relieved by injecting a corticosteroid medication into your bursa; in some cases, your doctor may use ultrasound to guide the injection into the affected bursa.
What helps burning shoulder pain?
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen, are over-the-counter medications that help to relieve pain and reduce inflammation in rotator cuff injuries, tendonitis and arthritis, and other shoulder injuries.
Why my shoulder hurts when I sleep?
The bottom line. Shoulder pain can be caused by a variety of factors, including rotator cuff injuries, bursitis, and osteoarthritis. Sleeping on your side can increase the pressure on your shoulder, causing irritation or pain.