There are several different types of arthritis that can affect the shoulder, all of which can significantly impact your quality of life.

Shoulder Arthritis

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What is shoulder arthritis?

Osteoarthritis is known as the ‘wear and tear’ arthritis as it can occur as the result of overuse, and usually affects patents over 50. The articular cartilage that protects the bones from rubbing against each other becomes increasingly worn away, causing severe pain, even when resting. 

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition leading to inflammation of the shoulder joint and lining. This wears away the cartilage and usually affects both shoulder joints.

Post-traumatic arthritis is a form of osteoarthritis that occurs after injury.

Shoulder arthritis can also develop as a result of Avascular Necrosis, a painful condition that disrupts blood supply to the bone. When the bone dies, this damages the articular cartilage leading to arthritis. The most common symptoms of shoulder arthritis are persistent pain, stiff joints, limited motion and difficulty achieving daily activities. The loss of sleep can be particularly disabling. 

How is it treated?

To determine the type of arthritis and degree of damage, your doctor may first recommend an X-ray. The visible space between the ball and socket is indicative of how badly the cartilage has deteriorated. A CT scan may also be used to examine the outline of the shoulder joint in more detail, and an MRI may be used to examine the condition of the remaining cartilage. The initial treatment is likely to be non-surgical using physiotherapy, ice and heat, pain relief and modified movement. Cortisone injections can also be helpful in treating persistent inflammation. If symptoms are persistently worsening, your doctor may possibly recommend an arthroscopic examination using a tiny camera and special tools to remove loose fragments of cartilage causing irritation. In the case of advanced arthritis, a total shoulder replacement is the gold standard surgical procedure.

 How long does it last?

Unfortunately, there are currently no cures for shoulder arthritis, but the treatment options have significantly increased and there are many effective options to consider before thinking about surgery. The goal is ultimately to ease the shoulder pain, maintain mobility and stay active. Your treating doctor will recommend the most suitable treatments for your particular type of shoulder arthritis. 

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