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Arthritis is one of the most common shoulder joint disorders in the world. It is estimated that more than 50 million adults and 300,000 children have some form of arthritis. The shoulders are one of the most commonly affected joints, and recognizing the signs early on can help you seek treatment before it becomes a debilitating condition.

But what are the signs of arthritis in the shoulder? How do you know when it's time to visit a team of shoulder surgeons near you, or what your other options are for finding long-term relief?

At Pinnacle Surgical Orthopedics, Dr. Sean Kaminsky specializes in treating arthritis of the shoulder joint, including shoulder surgeries when necessary. Dr. Kaminsky and his team are dedicated to providing you with the highest quality of care, and that includes educating patients on the signs of arthritis in their shoulders. 

Here's what you need to know about shoulder arthritis, along with the top six signs to look out for if you suspect you may have arthritis in your shoulders.

Understanding Shoulder Arthritis

Arthritis in the shoulder occurs when the cartilage that cushions the shoulder joint—where the upper arm bone fits into the shoulder socket—begins to fray or deteriorate. This process often results from wear and tear arthritis, leading to discomfort, stiffness, and limited range of motion. The shoulder, a ball and socket joint, is made up of three bones: the upper arm bone, the shoulder blade, and the collarbone. When arthritis strikes, it can affect any part of the shoulder. 

There are several types of arthritis in the shoulder, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and post-traumatic arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that typically affects people over 50 and is often the result of the wear and tear of life. Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, involves the immune system attacking the membrane that lines the shoulder socket, causing pain and inflammation that can eventually lead to bone erosion and joint deformity. Post-traumatic arthritis comes after an injury to the shoulder joint.

Recognizing these types of shoulder arthritis and their symptoms is vital for early detection and treatment. Early intervention can limit the progression of the disease, minimize shoulder problems, and preserve the range of motion for a better quality of life. If you experience persistent pain, stiffness, or swelling in your shoulder, do not hesitate to consult a medical professional.

The Top 6 Signs of Shoulder Arthritis

  1. Persistent Shoulder Pain
    The first and foremost sign of shoulder arthritis is persistent shoulder pain. This pain can range from mild discomfort to severe, debilitating pain, impacting your shoulder function. It's usually caused by the wear and tear arthritis affecting the shoulder joint.

  2. Stiffness in the Shoulder
    Stiffness in the shoulder is another common symptom of arthritis. This stiffness can make it difficult to move the shoulder, reducing your range of motion and making everyday tasks more challenging.

  3. Limited Range of Motion
    Arthritis in the shoulder can significantly limit your range of motion. You may find it challenging to raise your arm above your head, reach behind your back, or perform other movements involving the shoulder joint.

  4. Swelling and Tenderness 
    Swelling and tenderness around the shoulder joint are often signs of arthritis. The inflammation caused by arthritis can lead to swelling, which can make the shoulder feel tender to the touch.

  5. Audible Grinding or Clicking Sounds
    You may notice a grinding or clicking sound when moving the shoulder. This is due to the deterioration of the cartilage in the ball and socket of the shoulder joint, causing the bones to rub against each other.

  6. Difficulty Sleeping
    Arthritis in the shoulder can make it difficult to sleep due to the persistent pain and discomfort. This is particularly true if you try to sleep on the side with the affected shoulder.

Early intervention can help relieve pain, preserve shoulder function, and prevent further shoulder injuries. If you notice any of these symptoms, don't hesitate to schedule an appointment with Pinnacle Surgical Orthopedics for a comprehensive evaluation.

How Pinnacle Surgical Orthopedics Can Help

At Pinnacle Surgical Orthopedics, our team of experienced orthopedic surgeons, led by Dr. Sean Kaminsky, specializes in delivering personalized treatment plans for shoulder arthritis. Our approach to treatment is tailored to the specific needs and conditions of our patients.

Nonsurgical Treatments

For many patients, nonsurgical treatments can effectively offer pain relief, improve range of motion, and enhance overall quality of life. These treatments often involve a combination of pain medication, such as anti-inflammatories to reduce swelling and pain, and a physical therapy regimen designed by our experienced physical therapists. Physical therapy can strengthen the muscles around the shoulder joint, improve flexibility, and promote a more significant range of motion when the shoulder heals.

Surgical Treatments

In more serious cases where nonsurgical treatments fail to alleviate symptoms, surgical intervention may be considered. Our team is highly proficient in advanced shoulder procedures, including arthroscopic shoulder surgery. This minimally invasive arthroscopic procedure involves the use of miniature surgical instruments inserted through small incisions. Shoulder arthroscopy allows our surgeons to examine and repair the shoulder joint without extensive surgery.

In severe cases, if arthritis has significantly damaged the shoulder joint, a typical or total shoulder replacement may be the most effective treatment. In a typical shoulder replacement, only the damaged parts of the shoulder are replaced using arthroscopic surgery techniques. In a total shoulder replacement, the entire shoulder joint is replaced. These procedures can dramatically reduce pain and restore function to the shoulder.

Our team at Pinnacle Surgical Orthopedics is committed to helping patients navigate their treatment options and make informed decisions about their health. If you're experiencing signs of shoulder arthritis, don't hesitate to schedule an appointment for a comprehensive evaluation.

Visit Your Orthopedic Doctor in Hermitage, TN

Don't ignore the signs of shoulder arthritis. If you identify with any of the symptoms discussed in this blog post, it's time to consult an orthopedic surgeon. Early detection and treatment can significantly prevent the progression of the disease, alleviate pain, and improve your quality of life. It's well worth the time to schedule an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon like those at Pinnacle Surgical Orthopedics

Remember, your health is in your hands. Don't delay – schedule an appointment at Pinnacle today to evaluate your shoulder health and explore the best treatment options tailored for you.