The shoulder joint experiences more movement than any other joint in the body. If your shoulder is affected by arthritis, participating in daily activities can be painful and difficult. If shoulder discomfort has a hold on your life, schedule an appointment with Dr. Larson.

Shoulder Anatomy

Your shoulder is made up of three bones:

  • Upper arm bone (humerus)
  • Shoulder blade (scapula)
  • Collarbone (clavicle)

The head of your upper arm bone fits into a rounded socket in your shoulder blade. This socket is called the glenoid. A combination of muscles and tendons keeps your arm bone centered in your shoulder socket. These tissues are called the rotator cuff.

There are two joints in the shoulder, and both may be affected by arthritis. One joint is located where the clavicle meets the tip of the shoulder blade (acromion). This is called the acromioclavicular (AC) joint. The second is where the head of the humerus fits into the scapula and is called the glenohumeral joint.

What is Shoulder Arthritis?

There are two main types of shoulder arthritis:

  • Osteoarthritis is caused by the wear and tear of the cartilage. As we age, our cartilage breaks down and no longer acts as a cushion for our bones.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that attacks the shoulder joint lining.

Once you schedule an appointment with Dr. Larson, he will discuss your symptoms and perform a shoulder examination, during which, he will look for:

  • Pain when pressure is placed on the joint
  • Muscle weakness
  • Shoulder tenderness when touched
  • Signs of injury to the areas surrounding the shoulder joint
  • Any limitations on the normal range of motion
  • A grating sensation inside the shoulder as it moves
  • If any other joints show arthritis signs, which can mean shoulder pain is due to rheumatoid arthritis

Treatment Options

Symptoms related to shoulder arthritis can be managed with treatments such as:

  • Resting the shoulder
  • Icing and applying moist heat
  • Modifying activities that strain the shoulder
  • Exercise
  • Physical therapy
  • Steroid injections

In more extreme cases of arthritis, Dr. Nelson may recommend:

  • Shoulder arthroscopy: Some cases of mild arthritis may be treated with shoulder arthroscopy. During surgery, Dr. Larson inserts a tiny scope into the shoulder joint through a small incision. Using the images, he will use micro-instruments to clean out the inside of the joint. While this procedure won’t eliminate arthritis from the shoulder, it does provide pain relief.
  • Shoulder joint replacement: In advanced cases of arthritis, shoulder replacement surgery may be needed to alleviate pain and restore range of motion. In this procedure, damaged parts of the shoulder are removed and replaced with artificial components.

If you are experiencing shoulder pain, schedule an appointment with Dr. Larson who will help develop a plan to get you back to your daily activities as soon as possible. Contact our office today to set up an appointment.