Shoulder Arthritis

Shoulder arthritis, or osteoarthritis of the shoulder, typically occurs in the over 55's who have been suffering shoulder pain on and off for many years.

What is Shoulder Arthritis?

Shoulder arthritis, or osteoarthritis of the shoulder, typically occurs in the over 55's who have been suffering shoulder pain on and off for many years. The pain eventually becomes so great that it:

  • Becomes a constant, hot, joint pain
  • Limits movement in the shoulder joint
  • Affects the ability to sleep

This type of arthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, is a condition whereby wear and tear damage is caused to the shiny surface of the joint. Since the body can't repair damaged joint surfaces, instead, it reacts with an inflammatory response which leads to ongoing destruction of the joint and the muscles, tendons and ligaments around it.

Early onset arthritis often begins after traumatic injury, disrupting the normal joint surface sooner than normal wear and tear. Shoulder dislocations, broken shoulders and rotator cuff tears which affect the shiny surface of the shoulder joint, may also cause early onset arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis or RA, is an autoimmune condition suspected to be triggered by certain viruses or bacteria. RA affect joints by eating away the joint surface, disfiguring the shape of the joint and causing joint swelling, tenderness, warmth and loss of movement.

If you have suffered a shoulder injury or simply wish to minimise the risk of arthritis, you need to understand your condition and what simple steps you need to take to optimise your health. Dr Manish Gupta is a highly regarded shoulder expert and can customise an arthritis avoiding strategy for you.

Shoulder Pain? You need a Shoulder Expert!

If you suspect serious injury or your pain won't subside like it should, you need a thorough diagnosis to understand what condition you may have.

Dr Manish Gupta is an experienced orthopaedic consultant specialising in shoulder probelms and can offer you the very best diagnosis and treatment advice for your condition. Call 02 9687 8344 to make your booking or use our online booking form here.

Symptoms of Shoulder Arthritis

Depending on the length of time someone has suffered shoulder arthritis, they may experience the following symptoms;

  • Constant shoulder pain during the day
  • Shoulder pain at night causing disruption to sleep
  • Increased pain and tender with touch
  • Loss of shoulder movement
  • Loss of shoulder strength
  • Increased shoulder stiffness
  • Depression

What Causes Shoulder Arthritis?

Shoulder arthritis is the body's reaction to damage of the shiny smooth surface of the shoulder joint. Arthritis itself causes further joint damage and the deterioration of surrounding structures.

In osteoarthritis, excessive wear and tear causes damage to the joint surface, often by undertaking shoulder activities which are repetitive, heavy loaded or employing poor posture or poor technique. Joints affected by this kind of condition are usually isolated to one side of the body.

Arthritis of the shoulder may also get names like post-traumatic arthritis, avascular necrosis and rotator cuff arthropathy. A traumatic event such as shoulder dislocation, fractures and rotator cuff tears damage the joint surface leading to early onset of arthritis or acceleration of the current arthritis.

Different to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or RA, is an autoimmune disease which doctors believe is caused by genetic susceptibility towards certain environmental factors such as infection by viruses or bacteria which may trigger the disease. Once triggered, RA slowly attacks the lining of joint surfaces, often affecting joints on both sides of the body.

Sports Injuries Causing Shoulder Arthritis

Shoulder arthritis may be instigated by an unbalanced shoulder position, which has caused wear and tear to the shoulder joint. Sports may affect the balance of a shoulder by:

  • Over developing areas of the shoulder
  • Awkward techniques
  • Challenging shoulder positions
  • Fatigue from prolonging the same activity

The more often the balance of the shoulder is compromised, the higher the risk of developing shoulder arthritis.

Sports like weightlifting, gymnastics, crossfit and sailing where shoulder technique, posture and fatigue are important to the activity, may excessively wear and tear the shoulder joint. Players should be careful to monitor the balance of their shoulder and get their shoulders regularly checked for any irregular clicking, cracking or pain which may come and go and possibly indicate shoulder arthritis.

Contact sports like rugby, AFL, football, netball and basketball or sports like cycling and parkour are often the cause of serious traumatic shoulder injury, such as breaks and dislocations. Traumatic injury of this kind should be checked for joint damage and the risk of early onset of shoulder arthritis.

Workplace Injury Causing Shoulder Arthritis

Like some sports, some workplace activities may affect the normal balance of the shoulder, increasing wear and tear and the risk of developing shoulder arthritis. Repetitive workplace activities like painting, plastering and pulling on ropes may cause poor shoulder balance as a consequence of poor technique, poor posture, or for other reasons during the activity. Workers who experience clicking and pain in their shoulder should be regularly checked and monitored for the development of shoulder arthritis.

Dr Gupta runs regular sports injury clinics and workers injury clinics to evaluate your condition and provide you with a plan to minimise your risk of the effects of shoulder arthritis. Make an online booking here to see Dr Gupta about the state of your current shoulder condition;

Diagnosing Shoulder Arthritis

Diagnosing shoulder arthritis is a multi-step procedure:

  • Taking a history of the patient's condition
  • Determining if it was caused by traumatic injury, impact, collision or fall
  • Determining if it was gradual onset injury made worse by repetitive movements
  • Understanding the injury in the context of the patient's age and need to use their shoulder again quickly

A physical examination will then be performed whereby the location of pain, stability and function of the shoulder will be ascertained. Shoulder arthritis is often painful at rest with increasing pain through movement. Movement tests will determine if there is any undue clicking or cracking which may suggest the presence of arthritis and strength tests will determine if there is associated rotator cuff pathology indicating a special type of shoulder arthritis. A comparison to the patient's non affected side is always useful to determine the patient's sense of normal.

Imaging such as X-Ray and MRI and further diagnostic tests are used to determine whether there are any fractures or boney spurs contributing to the condition and to determine the severity of the condition and if there is rotator cuff involvement which would indicate a more serious condition.

Diagnosis and early treatment of shoulder arthritis is extremely important to minimise the condition and maximise the treatment options available to the patient.

Moderate Shoulder Arthritis

Moderate shoulder arthritis is typically suffered by patients under the age of 55, who have had shoulder pain on and off for many years, made worse by movement and lying on the shoulder. Some clicking and cracking may be associated with various movement tests. X-Ray and MRI will confirm the severity of the condition.

Severe Shoulder Arthritis

Severe shoulder arthritis is a serious condition, suffered by patients over 65, who have had constant shoulder pain for many years made worse by movement and lying on the shoulder. Grinding, clicking, and cracking is associated with shoulder movement. X-Ray and MRI will confirm the severity of the condition. 

Dr Manish Gupta works closely with sufferers of shoulder arthritis and can help you understand your condition. Book a consult today and stop guessing what is causing your pain.

Treatment for Shoulder Arthritis

Treatment of shoulder arthritis should always begin with a thorough diagnosis of your condition to understand the severity of the condition in the context of your age, your sport, your work and your life. Dr Gupta is an experienced Orthopaedic surgeon and consultant who has treated many sufferers of shoulder arthritis.

Non-Surgical Treatment

Moderate shoulder arthritis may be treated non-surgically using;

  • Rest
  • Pain and anti-inflammatory medication
  • Modification of activities causing wear and tear
  • Physiotherapy treatment for improved strength, better posture and function

However, depending on the functional requirement of your shoulder, like social sporting activities like golf or tennis or work activities like painting, you may require treatment which delivers a greater effect and so surgery may be right for you.

Surgical Treatment

Surgical treatment for shoulder arthritis should be considered in patients who have severe night pain that is affecting their sleep and loss of function affecting their activities of daily living and the quality of their life. Dr Manish Gupta uses a range of surgical procedures to treat shoulder arthritis so you can be sure you are getting the procedure that's right for you.

There are different surgical operations available to suit your age and physiology:

Shoulder Hemi Arthroplasty  

Operation which restores the shape of the humeral head (55-65 year olds)

Total Shoulder Replacement

Operation which replaces the normal anatomy of the shoulder (65-75 year olds)

Reverse Total Shoulder Replacement

Operation which replaces and reverses the normal anatomy of the shoulder  (>75yrs)

Post Operative Rehab Treatment

Dr Gupta uses a proven rehabilitation process for each of his operative procedures. Find out more about our rehab here at our Post-Op Total Shoulder Replacement Protocol Page. 

Shoulder arthritis is a very painful and debilitating condition. If you would like to know more about what you can do to prevent shoulder arthritis or what you can do about it, Dr Manish Gupta is available to help you.

For bookings, please call us on 02 9687 9344, or make an online booking to secure an appointment with a professional.