Glenohumeral “Shoulder” Arthritis

Have you even woken up in the morning with stiffness in one of your joints? Do you find yourself noticing clicking, popping, or grinding when you move your joints? What about swelling especially after using the joint? You may be one of several million people in the United States who is affected by osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a process that may affect any joint in the body including the shoulder. Arthritis is known as general “wear and tear” of the cartilage in the joint and generally affects people older than 50. The purpose of the cartilage is to provide a smooth surface so that the bones move with ease. As this cartilage wears away, the ragged surface of the cartilage and then the surface of each bone begins to rub together causing inflammation to occur which leads to pain. Once the process begins there is no cure, but fortunately there are several treatments to help alleviate the associated symptoms.

Today we’ll discuss arthritis of the shoulder, or glenohumeral joint. As demonstrated in the picture below, the shoulder is made of three bones: the scapula, clavicle and the humerus. Shoulder arthritis occurs in the glenoid of the scapula and the head of the humerus.

Shoulder Blog 1

Symptoms include pain, a grinding sensation with movement, and stiffness. The severity may range from a mild nuisance to debilitating. When discussing your symptoms with your healthcare provider, they may obtain an x-ray of your shoulder. Some of the findings of an arthritic shoulder are demonstrated in the picture below. The x-ray on the left demonstrates a normal healthy shoulder and the one on the right demonstrates an arthritic shoulder. As we compare the two x-rays, we notice that the arthritic shoulder has a loss of the joint space and bone spurs (aka osteophytes).

Shoulder Blog 2

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It is always important to discuss your symptoms with your healthcare provider before beginning any treatment regime. Nonoperative treatments may include suggestions such as over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), such as Ibuprofen or Aleve, application of heat or ice, home exercises, and steroid injections. For those with advanced arthritis, your healthcare provider may refer you to an orthopedic surgeon for consideration of a total joint replacement.

The following is a link to more information about shoulder arthritis through the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: http://www.orthoinfo.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00222

-Christopher Pokabla, M.D.

-Lacy D. Johnson, P.A.

 

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