Everything You Need To Know About Shoulder Arthritis Treatment

January 22nd, 2016

Living with pain and stiffness from shoulder arthritis can be frustrating. The soreness and limited range of motion keep you from being able to do all the things that are important to you. Fortunately for you and millions of other sufferers, research into the field of osteoarthritis has created a significant number of shoulder arthritis treatment options. Knowing how important your shoulders are to your daily routine, we at Rothman Institute offer many treatment methods.

Non-Surgical Shoulder Arthritis Treatment Options

Moderating and Changing Activities - Overhead or heavy labor can aggravate arthritis of the shoulder, so reducing these activities, or modifying them so that you are not lifting too much weight or working higher than shoulder level may be helpful. It is important to maintain a good range of motion and muscle strength in an arthritic joint, so low or non-impact activities such as swimming can be especially beneficial. Heavy weight lifting can also aggravate arthritic shoulders, especially bench pressing or overhead pressing, so these activities should be avoided. Ask your doctor or physical therapist for exercises that can strengthen and maintain your shoulder joints.

Medications - The most common medications used for shoulder arthritis treatment are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These medications help by decreasing pain and inflammation in an arthritic joint, and are often sold over the counter. A variety of these medications are available and any one of them may be effective for your pain. If you have gastrointestinal upset with these medications, some newer drugs called COX-2 inhibitors may be a good option for treating shoulder arthritis without irritating your digestive tract. These medications are by prescription only. You should always take medication only following the instructions and under the supervision of a physician.

Joint Supplements Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate - Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate are both compounds found naturally in the human body, and which contribute to the maintenance of joints and cartilage. The use of oral glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate have been shown in many studies to cause mild to moderate improvement in patients’ osteoarthritis symptoms. In addition, there is some evidence that these supplements can prevent the progression of arthritis.

Intra-articular Injections - Intra-articular (into the joint) steroid injections can provide significant short-term pain relief in patients with advanced arthritis. This shoulder arthritis treatment is usually only effective for a few weeks to three months, however, it is sometimes effective longer than this if the pain is from an acute episode of inflammation. Steroid injections are generally limited to three or four a year.

Surgical Shoulder Arthritis Treatment Options

Arthroscopy - Arthroscopy, in which surgical shoulder arthritis treatment is done with a small incision, tiny instruments, and a camera to guide the surgeon’s work, is helpful for certain arthritis symptoms. When arthroscopy is used to simply to “clean out” the joint and smooth articular cartilage however, the results are unpredictable and can be short-lived. Arthroscopy can also be used to improve motion with arthritis.

Shoulder Replacement - In cases of severe symptoms, shoulder replacement, called arthroplasty, is an effective method of shoulder arthritis treatment. This surgery is performed to artificially replace the arthritic surface of the shoulder joint with metal and plastic. Most commonly, the humeral head (“ball”) is replaced with a metal ball attached to a stem. This stem is placed in the humerus (arm bone) to hold the ball in place. Sometimes, in a procedure called hemiarthroplasty, only this “ball” part of the joint is replaced. A total shoulder replacement includes replacement of both the “ball” (humeral head) and the “socket” (glenoid), and is a more common treatment for shoulder arthritis.

Additional Information is Available

If you’ve been living with shoulder arthritis, there are treatments available. Rothman Institute’s board certified surgeons can help you decide on the best options for your shoulder arthritis treatment. For more information, please visit us here or contact us at 1-800-321-9999.

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