Persistent, never-ending, throbbing, and immobilizing pain often describe the symptoms that an individual with degenerative arthritis faces every day.
Arthritis is not a single disease, but a way of referring to the experience of joint pain due to inflammation and cartilage breakdown. It can occur anywhere in the body, and is the leading cause of disability in America, according to the Arthritis Foundation. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis that affect more than 50 million adults and 300,000 children each year. Arthritis affects more women than men and is more prevalent as we age.
Degenerative arthritis – those that get progressively worse over time – can affect the musculoskeletal system, generally in the shoulder and knee.
Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the most common degenerative types of arthritis.
· Osteoarthritis is defined by the wearing away of cartilage, causing painful bone-on-bone friction.
· Rheumatoid arthritis is defined as inflammatory arthritis, an autoimmune disease, in which the body attacks itself, mainly the body’s joints.
It is possible to have both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis at the same time.
How Does Arthritis Affect the Shoulder?
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis that affects the shoulder joint. After injury or shoulder trauma, osteoarthrosis can cause chronic disabling pain, making it difficult for people to live a normal life.
When someone has osteoarthritis of the shoulder, the cartilage that allows the shoulder to smoothly move in different directions and perform a variety of actions, breaks down, causing bone-on-bone friction, resulting in irregular motion of the shoulder as well as the development of bone spurs (osteophyte).
Bone spurs develop as the bone attempts to heal itself. However, since cartilage cannot regrow or repair itself once it’s worn away, the bone spurs can cause friction, inflammation, weakness, pain, and loss of motion and functionality of the shoulder.
Within the shoulder, two main joints can be affected by osteoarthritis.
· The shoulder joint (glenohumeral joint or GH) provides most of our ability to move our shoulder. It is ball-and-socket type joint located between the upper arm bone (humerus) and shoulder blade (scapula).
· The acromioclavicular joint (AC joint) is located between the top of the shoulder blade (scapula) and the collarbone (clavicle).
When dealing with arthritis of the shoulder, it is important to have a physician carefully evaluate the situation and make an accurate diagnosis.
Arthritis cannot be cured, but there are various treatment options and ways to manage and control its symptoms.
Treatment for degenerative arthritis of the shoulder usually includes physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, exercise, rest, and modifying activity participation.
If the degeneration is significant enough, surgery such as joint replacement – when the arthritic parts of the shoulder joint are replaced with a prosthesis – can restore function and mobility.
To learn more about degenerative arthritis and how our orthopedic specialists may be able to help relieve your pain, call Advanced Bone & Joint at (636) 229-4222 or you can request an appointment online.