Osteoarthritis, or "wear and tear" arthritis, is a common degenerative disease that can affect any joint in the body, causing inflammation with pain and stiffness. As the body ages, osteoarthritis is quite common; it usually effects people over age 50. There are two joints in the shoulder that can be affected – one where the upper arm bone (humerus) fits into the rounded socket in the shoulder blade (scapula); the other where the collarbone (clavicle) meets the shoulder blade; both can lose the cartilage that protects the bone, causing the bones to rub together.
Diagnosing Osteoarthritis of the Shoulder
Your physician will ask you a series of questions and is likely to do a physical exam. The physical exam will including examining any specific areas of concern, especially as they relate to the reason for your visit to the office.
A form of electromagnetic radiation with very high frequency and energy. X-rays are used to examine and make images of things such as the bones and organs inside the body.
This test uses a magnetic field, radiofrequency pulses, and a computer to produce detailed images of body structures in multiple places. You may be injected with a contrast agent for better imaging, and you will most likely lie on a moving table as pictures are taken. MRI is a more detailed tool than x-ray and ultrasound and for certain organs or areas of the body, it provides better images than CT. MRI may not be recommended if you have a pacemaker or other metal implants.
A common tool for disease screening, blood tests provide information about many substances in the body, such as blood cells, hormones, minerals, and proteins.
Treatments for Osteoarthritis of the Shoulder
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
A class of medications, including but not limited to aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen, that are used for reducing pain and redness, swelling, and heat (inflammation) in arthritis and other painful inflammatory disorders.
Sometimes referred to simply as "PT," this is a type of rehabilitative treatment that uses specially designed exercises and equipment to help patients preserve, regain, or improve their physical abilities following injury, disability, disease, or surgery. Physical therapy can include therapeutic exercise, massage, assistive devices, and patient education and training.
Physicians may prescribe general lifestyle changes to a patient, in order to help relieve the symptoms of their condition and improve their overall physical function and well-being. Depending on the medical condition being treated, activity modification may include: decreasing or increasing one's level of physical activity; added rest; beginning a new activity or exercise program; changing sleep habits; or modifying one's physical environment at home, in their vehicle, or at work.
Also known as cortisone shots, these are injections that may help relieve pain and inflammation in a specific area of the body. Cortisone shots are most commonly given into joints — such as the ankle, elbow, hip, knee, shoulder, spine, and wrist.
Glucosamine & Chondroitin Sulfate
Glucosamine is found naturally in the body. It stimulates the formation and repair of articular cartilage. Over-the-counter supplements come from animal sources. Chondroitin sulfate is another natural substance found in the body. It prevents other body enzymes from degrading the building blocks of joint cartilage.
Surgery for Osteoarthritis of the Shoulder
For patients whose condition has not responded to nonsurgical treatments, there are several different shoulder surgery options. For milder arthritis cases, arthroscopy may be performed. This involves the surgeon inserting a small camera, called an arthroscope, into the shoulder joint. The camera displays pictures on a television screen, and the surgeon uses these images to guide miniature surgical instruments. Arthroscopy allows for only very small incisions (cuts), due to the very thin pieces of equipment that are used. For more advanced cases, shoulder joint replacement (arthroplasty) may be performed. During shoulder joint replacement, the damaged parts of the shoulder are removed and replaced with an artificial component, called a prosthesis. Replacement surgery techniques include hemiarthroplasty, total shoulder arthroplasty, resection arthroplasty, and reverse total shoulder arthroplasty. The patient's surgeon can discuss which option is best for each individual's case.