shoulder arthritis

Arthritis in the Shoulder

“Arthritis” is damage to the cartilage in joints. Arthritis happens in the shoulder when the cartilage starts to break down on the ball-and-socket parts of the shoulder joint. The breakdown of cartilage is most often the result from gradual wear and tear, and this is when we would start to experience pain.

Symptoms of shoulder arthritis might look different for every person. Symptoms may include pain, stiffness, reduced range of motion, grinding, or a clicking/cracking sensation. Pain in the shoulder joint is usually the first sign of arthritis, often made worse by lifting, carrying heavy objects, or after exercise/use. That grinding or clicking feeling may also be a sign, whether the clicking is painful or not. Depending on the severity of the arthritis and pain, you may experience the pain spread down into the elbow and wrist. Joint stiffness is often a sign of arthritic development; the more stiffness increases, the less mobility there is for the shoulder, and the cycle continues.

So how can we break the cycle and treat the arthritis? There are three things to target while combatting should arthritis. Pain Control, movement, and lifestyle modifications.

Controlling the pain is going to be the priority for the person experiencing shoulder arthritis. Ice and heat are key treatments when it comes to pain and inflammation. Ice or a cold therapy pad are great for pain, especially after any activity that increases discomfort. In addition, heat can be a good treatment for warming up the joint before any activity. It’s recommended for both to leave on for 15-20 minutes at a time, but do whatever feels best for your body.

Lifestyle modifications may need to be adjusted in order to live as pain-free as possible. Generally, anything you do that interferes with your life should be avoided within reason. This might prompt you to reflect on how much activities are worth doing to you. For example, if you play golf and your body hurts after a round for days and days – it might be worth considering finding a new hobby.

Lastly, physical therapy and range-of-motion exercises are going to be your friend when combatting shoulder arthritis. We want to keep the shoulder as mobile as possible while reducing pain and discomfort, and prevent the area from deteriorating. Practicing range of motion and strengthening the muscles around the area is almost always recommended.

Reading this got you noticing your joint pain? We have physical therapists ready to help you take on arthritis or whatever ailment’s got you in pain.