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Shoulder Arthritis

Your shoulders are susceptible to a number of conditions and injuries, one of which is shoulder arthritis. Shoulder arthritis is one of the most common forms of arthritis, primarily due to the shoulder’s wide range of motion and frequent use. Arthritis is a degenerative joint disease that typically affects older adults, although it may also occur in younger individuals due to injury or genetics.

Anatomy of the Shoulder

It is essential to understand the anatomy of the shoulder joint to better understand shoulder arthritis. The shoulder is a highly complex and mobile joint that connects the arm to the torso. It is made up of three bones: the humerus (upper arm bone), scapula (shoulder blade), and clavicle (collarbone). These bones work together with muscles, tendons, and ligaments to allow for a wide range of motion.

Causes and Risk Factors

Shoulder arthritis doesn’t strike at random. Several factors increase the risk of developing this painful condition. Some of the most common causes and risk factors include:

Age

The risk of developing arthritis increases with age, making it more common in older adults.

Genetics

A family history of arthritis can increase one’s risk, indicating a genetic predisposition to the condition.

Previous Injury

Individuals who have previously injured their shoulder, such as a fracture or dislocation, are at a higher risk of developing arthritis in that joint.

Overuse

Repeated overuse of the shoulder joint, often seen in athletes or certain professions, may lead to arthritis later in life.

Autoimmune Diseases

Conditions where the immune system attacks the body, such as rheumatoid arthritis, may also affect the shoulder.

Symptoms

Shoulder arthritis may cause a range of symptoms, including:

  • Dull, achy, or sharp pain
  • Shoulder stiffness
  • Limited range of motion
  • Swelling and tenderness around the shoulder joint
  • Clicking, grinding, or popping in the shoulder

Diagnosis

If you experience symptoms of shoulder arthritis, it is essential to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis. At Excel Health, we will perform a physical exam and may order imaging tests such as X-rays or an MRI to assess the condition of your shoulder joint. In some cases, arthroscopy (a minimally invasive procedure) may be performed to visualize the inside of the shoulder joint.

Treatment Options

Conservative Care

Treatment of shoulder arthritis typically begins with non-surgical methods such as:

  • Physical Therapy: Customized exercises to strengthen shoulder muscles, improve flexibility, and alleviate pain
  • Medication: NSAIDs, analgesics, or corticosteroid injections for pain relief and inflammation reduction
  • Activity Modification: Avoiding activities that exacerbate symptoms and modifying daily tasks to reduce shoulder strain
  • Heat and Cold Therapy: Application of heat or cold packs to alleviate pain and stiffness
  • Assistive Devices: Braces, slings, or orthotics to support the shoulder joint and improve mobility

Surgical Treatment

When conservative treatments fall short, surgery may be necessary for shoulder arthritis. At Excel Health, we offer advanced techniques like partial or total shoulder replacements. Our approach prioritizes patient well-being, ensuring surgery is recommended only when it can notably enhance your quality of life. Our surgical team employs cutting-edge methods to achieve optimal outcomes for shoulder arthritis patients.

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