What is Shoulder Osteoarthritis?
Shoulder osteoarthritis (OA) is the wear and tear type of arthritis that develops over the years. It tends to be accelerated in anyone who has had trauma to their shoulder in the past. OA first starts as softening of the bone cartilage cap and then it continues to erode down to bare bone. It can be very painful at times or silent. Patients commonly describe the pain as a dull ache or a sharp pain in their shoulder. Often patients will notice a restriction in their ability to move their arm. This may make it difficult to grab the seat belt, brush your hair, or reach above your head. Often people will feel their shoulder cracking as the arthritis worsens.
How Can I Prevent Shoulder Osteoarthritis?
Shoulder osteoarthritis is very difficult to prevent, but there are certain variables that can be change to help. Individuals who do a lot of work and lifting with their arms are at a higher risk of developing osteoarthritis in their shoulder. The shoulder was not made to be a weight bearing joint, so individuals who engage in activities that place a lot of stress on their shoulder can quicken the development of osteoarthritis. If these types of activities can be decreased or avoided, then osteoarthritis can be slowed.
When Should I See My Doctor?
Shoulder osteoarthritis is progressive and it’s important to have it under control, so you can enjoy your life. Patients often seek help because the pain becomes too much, stiffness makes it difficult to move their arm, or the pain starts to wake them up at night. Ice will help control the inflammation and pain. Over the counter anti-inflammatories may also be help to again control pain and inflammation. If the pain persists despite these basic treatments, then you should see your doctor. Your physician may choose to do x-rays to check on the amount of arthritis and can often provide some treatment. Treatment may include prescription anti-inflammatories, physical therapy, or different types of injections. Injections can be used to reduce pain and inflammation or to restore cartilage and reverse arthritis. As arthritis becomes severe then the options become limited and a joint replacement may be indicated. If your shoulder has been bothering you for a prolonged period of time, then please seek the help of a sports medicine doctor.