5 different types of shoulder arthritis

Managing the 5 Different Types of Shoulder Arthritis

It’s National Arthritis Week in October and a recent study published in The Lancet Rheumatology has projected that nearly 1 billion people will be living with osteoarthritis by 2050. Usually affecting people over the age of 45, it is a common form of arthritis that can affect people at any age.

Many people experience osteoarthritis in the shoulder, but there are five types of shoulder arthritis in total. All types of shoulder arthritis affect the surface of the joint, causing some common symptoms.

Here we’ll look at the different types of shoulder arthritis, along with ways to manage arthritic shoulder conditions.

Shoulder osteoarthritis

Shoulder osteoarthritis is the most common form of shoulder arthritis, associated with wear and tear of the shoulder joint. There can be one or more contributing factors to shoulder osteoarthritis.

Genetics, micro trauma as well as increased forces across the joint, sometimes caused by sporting/occupational activities, can contribute. But also, as the body ages, the protective layer of cartilage wears away, enabling the bones to rub together on movement. This can cause joint pain, discomfort and limited range of movement.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Also called inflammatory arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease causing both chronic joint and joint lining inflammation. Similar to osteoarthritis, this leads to wearing away of the shoulder joint cartilage.

Symptoms include tiredness and stiffness in the shoulder, particularly on waking up. Also, shoulder tenderness and bumps under the skin in the shoulder. There are now more advanced non-surgical treatments for this type of arthritis.

Post-traumatic arthritis

Usually resulting from a shoulder injury, involving a fracture of the ball or the socket, post-traumatic arthritis can occur when the cartilage is damaged at the same time. Post-traumatic arthritis results in fluid accumulation in the joint, causing considerable pain and discomfort.

Avascular Necrosis

Also called osteonecrosis, this unusual type of arthritis is a progressive disease that results in the death of bone joint tissue. An injury or illness, usually a sudden dislocation or fracture, causes a problem with the blood supply to the joint. This causes damage to a section of the bone and the overlying cartilage.

Rotator cuff tear arthropathy

Rotator cuff tear arthropathy usually occurs with overuse or accidents, involving a large tear of the large rotator cuff tendon. Treatment can be more challenging than with the other forms of arthritis as it involves the joint surface as well as the soft tissue that supports the joint.

Managing shoulder arthritis

There are different treatment options for shoulder arthritis for reducing pain and improving movement. Lifestyle changes, exercises, medications, dietary supplements and different therapies, including steroid injections, can all be effective treatments. By discussing your options with a shoulder specialist, the right treatment plan, sometimes including one or more of these treatments, can be chosen for you.

Usually, if non-surgical treatments are unsuccessful, then a shoulder arthroscopy or a total shoulder replacement may be recommended. However, for those with rotator cuff tear arthropathy, then a reverse total shoulder replacement might be required.

To discuss treatment options for shoulder arthritis and for a personalised treatment plan, get in touch with the London Shoulder Specialists.