What is Shoulder Arthritis?
Arthritis literally means “inflamed joint” and has come to refer to any condition where there is bone-on-bone or the loss of cartilage between the bones. Cartilage is the smooth covering on the ends of the bones that help the joint glide and move easier without pain. In a patient with shoulder arthritis, the articular cartilage has become worn or is damaged, causing chronic pain and in some cases, loss of movement. Shoulder specialist, James Mazzara, MD is dedicated to helping patients in Manchester, South Windsor, Rocky Hill, Glastonbury and surrounding Hartford communities suffering from this condition return to a happy, active life.
The shoulder is the third most common joint affected by arthritis, after the hip and knee. Two distinct joints within the shoulder can be affected by arthritis: the AC joint (acromioclavicular), where the collarbone (clavicle) meets the bony roof of the shoulder (acromion); and the glenohumeral joint where the ball of the arm bone (humerus) meets the shoulder socket (glenoid).
What are the Major Types of Shoulder Arthritis?
Osteoarthritis – Often called “wear and tear” arthritis, it is a condition that happens over time, generally in older adults. Genetics, micro-trauma from instability or dislocations and fractures, use and increased forces across the joint can also be contributing causes of osteoarthritis. The protective covering of the cartilage wears away and the bones of the shoulder rub together causing inflammation and pain.
Rheumatoid Arthritis – Considered an auto-immune disease, rheumatoid arthritis can attack any joint of the body. It occurs when the body’s own immune system attacks its own cartilage and destroys it. Often seen more in women than in men, this hereditary, or genetic form of arthritis causes the synovial lining that lubricates the joint to swell, leading to pain and stiffness.
Post-traumatic Arthritis or Secondary Arthritis – This type of shoulder arthritis develops after an injury to the joint such as a torn rotator cuff or dislocation. The prior trauma can damage the cartilage surface, causing it to wear and disappear. Chemical and mechanical changes in the shoulder can also cause the pre-damaged cartilage to wear away.
What are the Symptoms of Shoulder Arthritis?
- Shoulder pain with minimal to no pain, to sudden episodes of intense, sharp pain and discomfort.
- Pain centered in the back of the shoulder – commonly felt down the arm to the elbow
- Stiffness in the joint
- Difficulty lifting or moving the arm, especially overhead
- Grinding sensation
- Night pain is common after the joint has experience movement during the day
How is Arthritis of the Shoulder Diagnosed?
Dr. Mazzara will conduct an initial history review and physical examination to determine the areas of pain and tenderness as well as range of motion. X-rays and an MRI may also be used to confirm the diagnosis.
Are you experiencing shoulder arthritis symptoms?
There are two ways to initiate a consultation with Dr. Mazzara:
You can provide current X-rays and/or MRIs for a clinical case review with Dr. Mazzara.
You can schedule an office consultation with Dr. Mazzara.
What are the Treatment Options for Shoulder Arthritis?
The main goal in treating shoulder arthritis is to diminish the symptoms such as pain and limited mobility. Patients in the Manchester, South Windsor, Rocky Hill, Glastonbury and surrounding Hartford communities will find several treatment options at the orthopedic office of Dr. James Mazzara.
Arthritis of the shoulder is common. Many patients live with the side effects and mild pain for years before seeking medical treatment. Patients can lessen the severity of shoulder pain by rest, applying ice to the joint, or with physical therapy. Anti-inflammatory medications or ultrasound guided corticosteroid injections prescribed and administered by the orthopedic office of Dr. Mazzara can help patients with shoulder arthritis avoid surgery.
If non-surgical treatment does not alleviate the pain and symptoms of shoulder arthritis, surgery may become necessary. Based on the patient’s level of activity, severity of arthritis and intensity of the symptoms, Dr. Mazzara will help devise a treatment strategy. Some surgical options include:
Arthroscopy of the shoulder – A minimally invasive procedure using small incisions with a small camera placed inside the joint. Small instruments are then utilized to trim or smooth out the synovial lining and remove pieces of the degraded cartilage. While this treatment will not cure or stop arthritic damage, it can relieve associated pain and symptoms.
Shoulder Replacement Surgery (Arthroplasty) – In severe cases, joint replacement may be recommended. This procedure uses metal and plastic pieces, placed in the shoulder to create new joint surfaces. During this open surgery, the arthritic ball of the shoulder is replaced by a metal ball called a prosthesis. This ball attaches to a metal stem that goes inside the humerus (arm bone.) The arthritic socket is then covered by a smooth plastic socket. It is the motion of the smooth metal ball on the plastic socket that relieves pain and prevents the inflammation experienced with bone-on-bone arthritis. **Insert pre and post-op picture**
Shoulder replacement surgery may not be recommended for young patients. Dr. Mazzara will recommend other joint restoration and joint preservation techniques for patients under the age of 70. Typically an arthroplasty is the final opportunity to treat the arthritis and can last up to 15 years.
For additional resources on shoulder arthritis, or to learn more about treatment options for shoulder pain in Manchester, South Windsor, Rocky Hill, Glastonbury and surrounding Hartford communities, please contact the office of shoulder specialist, James Mazzara, MD.