Could my shoulder pain be caused by arthritis?

If you suffer from intermittent or sharp pain in your shoulders, hands, wrist, knees, foot or ankle, there’s a good chance that the cause could be arthritis.  Arthritis affects over 50 million men, women, and children in the United States – and over 350 million people worldwide.

In addition to pain, arthritis can also cause stiffness, tenderness, swelling, decreased range of motion, muscle weakness and even fatigue or malaise.  In the case of shoulder arthritis, the normally smooth cartilage covering the ball and socket of the shoulder joint is lost due to disease, wear and tear, or injury.

Possible causes of arthritis of the shoulder
Although wear and tear is the most common cause of shoulder arthritis, there are several other possible contributing factors, including:

•    Osteoporosis
•    Prior shoulder surgery, such as surgery for a recurrent dislocation
•    History of trauma, including  rotator cuff tears
•    Inflammatory conditions (such as Rheumatoid arthritis)
•    Overuse – especially for individuals who engage in high intensity overhead sports like tennis and weightlifting

Symptoms and diagnosis of shoulder arthritis
Patients with arthritis of the shoulder commonly complain of a stiff and painful shoulder, with a limited range of motion.  Pain and stiffness typically intensifies at night and interrupts sleep.  The pain can also interfere with the ability to do the activities of daily living and work.

Shoulder arthritis is usually diagnosed by a combination of a clinical and historical examination of the shoulder.
X-rays also may be taken to evaluate the extent of the damage, which may be helpful in deciding the most effective treatment.    A CT scan of the shoulder may also be done if it’s decided that surgical management would be the best course of action.

Treatment of shoulder arthritis
Non-surgical treatment is almost always exhausted before proceeding with any form of surgery.  Possible non-surgical options include:

•    Physical therapy and exercises
•    Painkillers and anti-inflammatories
•    Steroid injections

If surgery becomes necessary, the objective should be the least invasive approach to provide long term pain relief and restore function.

In arthroscopic surgery, the surgeon removes unwanted material and smoothes off the joint, hopefully providing relief of symptoms.

Shoulder replacement is obviously the most extreme treatment and is usually recommended only when there is severe unresolvable pain and/or previously failed non-surgical treatment.

Call us
At Plano Orthopedic, we want our patients to have a complete education of how the shoulder works in order to find the best treatment for you.  Our orthopedic doctors are specialists in shoulders and can help determine if your shoulder pain is related to arthritis or another condition.

To schedule an appointment with one of our shoulder specialists, please contact our scheduling department today at 972-250-5700 or online.   We look forward to seeing you soon and helping you begin the road to recovery and a pain-free and active life!