Understanding Shoulder Pain and Arthritis

Understanding Shoulder Pain and Arthritis

Did you know that there are over 100 different types of arthritis? Did you know that arthritis affects the young as frequently as the old? According to the Arthritis Foundation, nearly two-thirds of individuals diagnosed with an arthritic condition are under 65 years of age! The most common types of arthritis diagnosed today include:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA): this is a systemic or inflammatory type of arthritis that attacks the membranes that line a joint.
  • Osteoarthritis (OA): the most common form. It’s progressive and degenerative, caused by destruction of joint cartilage that cushions the joints, most often caused by obesity, previous joint injury, and wear and tear.
  • Juvenile arthritis: is classified as autoimmune and inflammatory type of arthritis that typically affects those under 16 years of age, but can be diagnosed in adults as well.

Arthritis can be found in numerous joints of the body, but most often affects those that are most used. Such joints include the wrist, elbow, shoulder, back, hips, and knees. For many, arthritis of the shoulder is caused by osteoarthritis. Developing arthritis following a prior shoulder injury or a rotator cuff injury or dislocation is relatively common.

How can I tell if I have shoulder arthritis?

Arthritis in the shoulder joint affects either the acromioclavicular (AC) joint where the collarbone attaches to the tip of the shoulder blade, or the glenohumeral joint, where the top of the arm bone connects with the scapula or shoulder blade. Individuals with arthritis of the shoulder may find limited range of motion in the shoulder joint when trying to move the arm. You may also hear a creaking or clicking sound. Arthritis in the shoulder joint can cause pain with movement. It all depends on how progressed it is.

What can I do about it?

Arthritis of the shoulder can be treated in a number of ways. First, your doctor may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDS) to reduce pain and inflammation. It’s always important to check with your doctor before taking any medication – even if they are over the counter. Prolonged use can lead to other issues as well. He may suggest you see a physical therapist (like myself) who will show you how to perform a variety of range of motion exercises designed to increase mobility and flexibility in the joint. Your physical therapist will also show you a number of exercises that you can do on a daily basis to reduce pain, increase mobility, range of motion, function, and strength in the shoulder joint area. Your therapist will also do specialized hands on techniques that help to improve the normal motion of the shoulder. Stretching and strengthening exercises will be the first step toward maintaining function while at the same time helping to prevent further damage. The more you strengthen the muscles around an arthritic shoulder joint, the more you can help to take the stress off the joint itself. This helps reduce stiffness and increases flexibility. Understanding Shoulder Pain and Arthritis with Dr. Siobhan France
NOTE: Often times people try to treat themselves without getting any guidance first. It’s always important to seek guidance from a qualified health professional. Not all exercises are made for everyone. You may also need some of our skilled techniques to assist you in the process of healing.

Exercising with shoulder arthritis

The key to exercising the shoulder arthritis is to take it slow and easy to start. Your physical therapist will provide examples of the most effective and safe types of exercise for you based on your pain levels, your current diagnosis and abilities, as well as your current strength, flexibility, and range of motion capabilities. When exercising a painful shoulder, it’s important to start slowly by warming up your muscles. Performing a dynamic warm up, such as an arm bike is a great way to warm up and prepare the body for more exercise. Always follow the instructions and examples provided by your therapist to ensure that you are doing exercises correctly. You may believe that exercise is the last thing you need with a sore joint, but listen to your doctor and your therapist. It can be difficult to understand your shoulder pain and arthritis, but Keep that joint mobile, flexible, and strong, through exercise and you’ll give yourself a better chance of decreasing pain.

Until Next Time,
Stay Happy & Healthy
~Dr. Siobhan



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