The 411 on Understanding & Treating Osteoarthritis of the Shoulder
Light aches and pains occur with age across your body, but certain medical conditions can also reduce your mobility and quality of life. Considering an estimated 50 million people in the United States suffer with a form of arthritis, you may also develop the condition in one or more areas of your body. Unfortunately, osteoarthritis is a more involved form of this common medical condition. Also known as the "wear and tear" arthritis, osteoarthritis can destroy the bone and cartilage surrounding your joints. If you are currently dealing with intense pain around the shoulder, you may be suffering with osteoarthritis. Using this guide, you will understand osteoarthritis of the shoulder and learn the best options for treatment.
The Wear & Tear of the Shoulder
As you age, the protective cartilage at the end of your bones wear down and frays. This wearing down reduces the protective space between your bone, causing joint pain and uncomfortable contact between the bones. Osteoarthritis will cause pain and discomfort in and around the shoulder joint, reducing your mobility of the arm and shoulder.
While pain is the most common symptoms, shoulder osteoarthritis may also cause the following:
- Stiffness—You may experience stiffness in the shoulder joint. This will decrease your ability to move the shoulder and arm.
- Grating—If you feel pressure and a grating sensation when moving your shoulder joint, you most likely have osteoarthritis. You may feel this grating sensation, but many patients are able to hear the contact between the bones of the shoulder.
- Bone Spurs—The friction between the two shoulder bones may cause bone spurs to develop. Spurs will feel like hard lumps on the bone.
Osteoarthritis affects individuals older than 50 years of age, but it can also develop after damage or an injury to the joint.
If you are experiencing the symptoms of osteoarthritis in your shoulder, consult your doctor immediately. X-rays and MRIs will show if you have missing cartilage or bone spurts around the affected joints.
A diagnosis of osteoarthritis is not the end of the word, since there are many treatment options available. For pain relief, your doctor may suggest the following:
- Medications—Acetaminophen and various non-steroidal pain relievers offer effective relief of your osteoarthritis pain while also reducing the inflammation around your joints and bones.
- Hydrotherapy—Hydrotherapy is a holistic option that centers on the use of water to reduce swelling, inflammation, and pain. Cold compresses, soaking in a jetted tub, and relaxing in a sauna are all safe, natural ways to reduce your osteoarthritis pain of the shoulder.
- Injections—If the above pain relievers are not helpful, your doctor may suggest a cortisone injection into the spaces between your shoulder joints. Many patients feel relief after the injection, but ongoing use of the cortisone may cause more damage to the shoulder joint.
In severe cases, doctors may recommend an arthroplasty. Also known as a joint replacement surgery, an arthroplasty is an invasive procedure where your surgeon removes the damaged surfaces of the shoulder joints before replacing them with artificial pieces. Unfortunately, many patients who undergo the arthroplasty will require an additional surgery to repair or replace the worn or lose artificial pieces.
If you prefer a less invasive, non-surgical treatment for a minor case of shoulder osteoarthritis, consider stem cell injections. Stem cells are taken from your bone marrow and then injected into the space of your worn shoulder joints. Injecting the cells promotes healthy healing through the regeneration and repair of damaged cartilage.
The cost of stem cell injections ranges from $1,200 to $8,000 per treatment, but the effective pain relief without the use of toxic medications and dangerous surgeries ensures you are making a smart investment.
Shoulder osteoarthritis is a painful condition that can be difficult to manage, but proper understanding will help. Using this guide and the help of your doctor, you will be able to understand and treat this wearing and tearing of your shoulder joints. For more information, consider contacting resources like Denver Regenerative Medicine.