Arthritis of the Shoulder
Of the four joints in the shoulder, two may be affected by arthritis: the acromioclavicular or AC joint, where the collarbone (clavicle) meets the tip of the shoulder bone (acromion), and the glenohumeral joint, where the upper arm bone (humerus) meets the shoulder blade (scapula).
Both of these joints are susceptible to three types of arthritis. Degenerative osteoarthritis, or “wear-and-tear” arthritis, is the most common and occurs as you age. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation of the joint lining, or synovium, and can happen at any age. Post-traumatic arthritis develops as a result of an injury such as a fracture, dislocated shoulder, or rotator cuff tear, all of which can damage the cartilage that lines the joints.
Symptoms of Shoulder Arthritis
Pain that is aggravated by activity is the most common sign of shoulder arthritis. If the glenohumeral joint is affected, the pain will be focused on the back of the shoulder, while pain in the AC joint is centered in the front of the shoulder. The pain may get progressively worse, especially at night, making it difficult to get a good night’s rest.
Another symptom of shoulder arthritis is limited motion. You may find it more difficult to lift your arm or hear a creaky sound as you move your shoulder.
The orthopedic doctors at the Center for Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine in San Antonio are experts at diagnosing and treating shoulder arthritis. The condition may be treated conservatively until the pain becomes so severe that surgery is required.
Treatment Options for Shoulder Arthritis
The initial treatment for shoulder arthritis includes rest, icing the shoulder, and taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication such as aspirin or ibuprofen to ease the swelling.
If you have rheumatoid arthritis, your doctor may recommend corticosteroid injections or dietary supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate.
If these treatment methods fail to relieve your pain, you may need surgery. Your doctor may recommend a total shoulder replacement if you have arthritis of the glenohumeral joint. During this procedure, your orthopedic surgeon will replace the entire shoulder joint with an implant. If you have severe rotator cuff damage along with arthritis, he will perform a reverse shoulder replacement instead. This procedure reverses the placement of the implants to allow the deltoid muscles to lift your arm.
Another option is to replace only the head of the upper arm bone. Known as hemiarthroplasty, this technique is viable if the shoulder socket does not have cartilage damage.
If you have arthritis of the AC joint, your doctor may perform resection arthroplasty. During this procedure, the surgeon will remove a small piece of bone from the collarbone, leaving a space that will eventually be filled in with scar tissue.
If you are suffering from shoulder arthritis, the physicians at the Center for Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine can diagnose and treat your condition, relieve your pain, and restore your range of motion. To schedule an appointment, call us at (210) 692-7400 or use our convenient online form.