SHOULDER PAINAs the elderly population expands, so do age-related orthopedic disorders. This is of particular concern in the field of shoulder pathology, as both osteoarthritis and rotator cuff disease are degenerative conditions that increase in the aging population.

Arthritis is a debilitating and painful condition that affects many people of all ages and all parts of the body. (In concern) People with shoulder arthritis,  who suffer from inflammation,  inflexibility, rigidness and pain in the shoulders, need to know that there are many medical treatments and options depending on the type of arthritis that an individual has.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, shoulder pain could potentially be caused by certain arthritis conditions. These conditions include rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile arthritis, gout, reactive arthritis, lupus, but most commonly osteoarthritis. According to Dr. Caroline Chebli, a fellowship trained and board certified shoulder and elbow surgeon, from Kennedy-White Orthopedic Center, Osteoarthritis can affect any joint in the body, including the shoulder. “Osteoarthritis in the shoulder is caused by cartilage breakdown at the end of bones where joints are formed, and is often initiated from a shoulder injury,” claims Dr. Chebli.  “The shoulder is arguably the most crucial joint in the body due to it being the most movable joint in the body”.

Arthritis in the shoulder can be extremely painful and can completely paralyze a patient’s day to day living and quality of life if it goes undiagnosed or untreated. “The key to treatment is an early diagnosis and a comprehensive plan to manage symptoms.

Pain and difficulty associated with moving ones arms can grow so severe that daily tasks and sleep can become difficult. If medication and physical therapy aren’t enough, shoulder replacement surgery is a common next step,” explains Caroline Chebli, MD. “A surgical procedure improves range of motion and reduces pain in nearly all cases, especially for those with intact rotator cuffs.”

To further reiterate what Dr. Chebli says, a recent study by the Mayo Clinic found that that 93 percent of rheumatoid arthritis patients who underwent a total shoulder replacement — in which both sides of a shoulder joint are replaced — needed no further surgery on the joint a decade later. The same was true for 88 percent of those undergoing a partial shoulder replacement.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, in order to diagnose osteoarthritis of the shoulder, the patient’s medical history, physical examination, and x-rays are considered. The doctor will look for certain signs and symptoms during the physical examination including:
• muscle weakness or atrophy;
• tenderness to the touch and pain when pressure is applied to joint;
• range of motion — both assisted and self-directed;
• signs of injury to muscles, tendons and ligaments around the shoulder.

Dr. Cheblis, reminds all, “Osteoarthritis and related shoulder pain and conditions doesn’t have to be debilitating, there are many great surgical options and post rehabilitation options that can greatly improve ones quality of life… the earlier the detection the better. There truly is so much hope.”

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