What is Shoulder Osteoarthritis?

Problems with the musculoskeletal system are something that a large portion of the world’s population struggles with.

Within the United States alone, around 131 million patients are admitted to hospitals from musculoskeletal-related problems alone, raking up to $215 billion in hospital costs. Moreover, joint problems affect one in every three adults, making it one of the most common health problems around the globe. Though more common among older people, particularly those who have reached past 45 years of age, weight, and inactivity can cause joint and bone problems to occur much earlier.

Arthritis is a condition that doctors are more likely to diagnose you with if you happen to be obese, inactive, and have unhealthy lifestyle habits. Affecting one in four American adults, it is a condition that causes swelling in one or more joints in the body. You may feel tenderness, stiffness, and joint pain if arthritis begins to kick in.

When people talk about arthritis, they are most likely going to be thinking about the hips and knees, or more common types such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. However, arthritis can affect other places in the body as well, and that includes the shoulder.

Shoulder osteoarthritis is something that may not be as worrisome but can cause just as much stress in everyday life. Partial shoulder function can cause someone to limit their daily activity and performance and even cause their mental health to deteriorate.

It is something that can await anyone as they age, but it may happen to someone who has experienced severe shoulder trauma. So, what exactly is shoulder osteoarthritis, and why should you be vigilant about it?

What is Shoulder Osteoarthritis?

Shoulder osteoarthritis, sometimes referred to as a degenerative joint disease, is a degenerative condition wherein a constant and biochemical breakdown of the articular cartilage and other nearby tissues. As the bone and joint capsules continue to deteriorate and the articular surface weakens, the friction will increase, causing the inability to move or perform basic movements with the shoulder as pain tolerance will progressively worsen.

Though most risk factors have to do with simple human biology and development, you can argue that most of us will experience slight pain or soreness in a few joints here or there. However, there are multiple risk factors that increase the chances of developing a severe case of shoulder osteoarthritis. Some of these include:

  • Joint health
  • History of shoulder dislocation
  • Genetic history
  • Previous injury
  • Sex

An important factor to consider in shoulder osteoarthritis is the occupation of the patients, as this can have a great influence on musculoskeletal health. Overhead or contact sports, construction, and jobs that involve carrying huge loads of weight may be a major reason why you might develop osteoarthritis later in life. Once the onset of symptoms has begun, or even long before that, do consult qualified physicians about the severity or possibility of the condition.

When it comes to the treatment of shoulder osteoarthritis, there are a lot of possible remedies and activities that one can utilize in order to slowly heal the joint back into a healthier form, or at the very least, relieve the pain.

Years of osteoarthritis clinical trials made way for various treatments we know today. These treatments include:

  • Resting your shoulder joint and area. The person experiencing shoulder osteoarthritis should be mindful of the movements involving his or her shoulders, and this can include changes to everyday life such as choosing which arm or hand to use, which clothes to wear, and even how to take showers.  All in all, movements that include a lot of over-the-head motions should be avoided.
  • Taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen can greatly help against the pain and inflammation that comes with the condition. Once you have acquired these drugs, do ask a qualified professional to check their legitimacy or get a prior prescription from a doctor.
  • Performing physical therapy.
  • Performing specific activities that help retain flexibility and movement in the arms.

Non-surgical treatments are often enough to help fight this condition, and surgeries are seldom necessary. However, in the case that a patient opts to go for surgery, these are available as well. However, risks are increased as the chance of an infection occurring is high, as well as complications with anesthesia.

These treatments include:

  • Shoulder joint replacement (total shoulder arthroplasty). Replacing all parts of the shoulder area with an artificial joint is commonly done to treat arthritis of the glenohumeral joint.
  • Shoulder joint replacement, which involves replacing the whole shoulder with an artificial one.
  • Replacement of the humerus or upper arm bone.
  • Removal of a piece in the collarbone, often used to treat when the arthritis is connected to the rotator cuff.

Takeaway (Conclusion/Learnings)

Arthritis can be associated with most if not all of the bones and joints in the body. It is something that may come later in life or due to our recklessness or laziness. The key here is to keep a healthy balance of movement, diet, and mindfulness to take care of our body, particularly the parts that allow us to do simple everyday tasks.

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