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Shoulder Arthritis and Chiropractic



What is the most common type of shoulder arthritis?

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of shoulder arthritis. Also called wear and tear or degenerative joint disease. Osteoarthritis is characterised by progressive wearing away of the cartilage of the joint.

As the protective cartilage surface of the joint is worn away by shoulder arthritis, bare bone is exposed within the shoulder.

The other common type of shoulder arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic condition that causes inflammation of the lining of the joints. This inflammation can, over time, invade and destroy the cartilage and bone.

It is much less common to have osteoarthritis of the gleno-humeral joint (main shoulder joint) than in, for instance, weight bearing joints such as the hips and knees.

The most common structure affected by wear and tear in the shoulder is actually the rotator cuff tendon. It is also more common to get osteoarthritis in the acromio-clavicular joint between the clavicle and shoulder blade.


Who develops shoulder arthritis?

Osteoarthritis of the shoulder typically affects people over 50 years of age. It is more common if you have a history of prior shoulder injury. There is also a genetic predisposition of this condition, meaning, arthritis tends to run in families.


What are the common symptoms of shoulder arthritis?

Shoulder arthritis symptoms tend to progress as the condition worsens. What is interesting about shoulder arthritis is that symptoms do not always progress steadily with time. Often people report good months and bad months. This is important to understand because comparing the symptoms of arthritis on one particular day may not accurately represent the overall progression of the condition.


The most common symptoms of shoulder arthritis are:

  • Pain with activities
  • Limited range of motion
  • Stiffness of the shoulder
  • Swelling of the joint
  • Tenderness around the joint
  • A feeling of grinding or catching within the joint


How can chiropractic treatment help shoulder arthritis?

Treatment of shoulder arthritis should begin with the most basic steps, such as modification of activities, limiting certain activities may be necessary.

It is important for the chiropractor to assess the flexibility and strength, the movement patterns and the type and severity of the arthritis.

Shoulder exercises are excellent for patients who have a weak shoulder. Stretching and strengthening of the muscles around the shoulder joint may help decrease the burden on the shoulder. Preventing atrophy of the muscles is an important part of maintaining functional use of the shoulder.

A good adjunct to the treatment which will help to reduce the inflamation and speed up the healing process is Low Level Laser Thearapy, which we uswe here at the ISIS Chiropractic Centres.

Anti-inflammatory pain medications

(NSAIDs) are prescription and non-prescription drugs that help treat pain and inflammation.Talk to your doctor before taking anti-inflammatory medication for shoulder arthritis.

In extreme cases cortisone injections may help decrease inflammation in the short term and reduce pain within a joint. While this will not cure shoulder arthritis, it may diminish the symptoms and help control pain.

Natural joint supplements such as Glucosamine, are safe and often effective for treatment of osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis is usually the end result of years of overuse and no doubt repeated episodes of pain.

If you are experiencing shoulder pain, even on an intermittent basis, you should have it looked at by a chiropractor, who will be able to help you prevent any disabling shoulder pain.


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