When arthritis impacts your shoulder, expect some significant changes in your life. You’ll deal with certain limitations that change the way you approach daily tasks. The pain may be constant or intermittent, but you’ll need to consider a plan to treat it, too.
Because surgery is a significant intervention, we usually suggest first managing the effects of arthritis before going under the knife.
Look to orthopedic shoulder surgeon Scott Ellsworth, MD, at Kansas City Orthopedic Alliance in Leawood, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri, for advice on how to manage your arthritis without surgery. As both an arthritis and shoulder pain specialist, Dr. Ellsworth has the knowledge and experience needed to control your symptoms.
A collection of over 100 conditions affecting your joints, arthritis can strike anywhere in your body. The most common form of the disease is osteoarthritis, a wear-and-tear condition that begins with repeated motions or simply the passage of time. Rheumatoid arthritis can also affect the shoulder. Injuries to the shoulder or the rotator cuff can also contribute to arthritic conditions.
All forms lead to deterioration of the shoulder joint. Commonly, the cartilage that protects the bone ends at the joint starts to break down or fail. In severe cases, that can lead to painful bone-on-bone contact. Sometimes, other soft tissue of the shoulder fails, compromising the joint.
While arthritis is often controllable, damage to the shoulder before treatment begins is usually permanent. Even with effective joint management, you may have some lost mobility or other long-lasting effects.
Any form of arthritis receives conservative and non-surgical treatment in its early stages. If these aren’t effective, or if the joint experiences further degeneration, you can expect more aggressive treatment. Arthritis management usually combines both medical care and lifestyle changes. Consider the following strategies and adopt those that apply to you.
Change the way you move your arm whenever possible to avoid pain or strain. If you perform a task or activity that requires repetitive motion of the shoulder, you may need to find a new technique to avoid further damage or irritation of the joint.
Anti-inflammatory drugs are commonly used to help relieve pain and reduce swelling. Follow Dr. Ellsworth’s instructions closely since these medications have side effects that must be balanced with their beneficial properties.
Moist heat and cold packs can relieve pain and reduce inflammation while increasing your shoulder’s range of motion. Learn when and how to use these therapies to the best effect.
Sometimes, mild to moderate exercise is the best answer for arthritis pain, particularly with osteoarthritis. Your physical therapy exercises aim to build supporting strength of shoulder muscles so that the full load of work comes off the joint.
Some aspects of your arthritis management plan depend on the nature of your condition. You can learn best how to deal with arthritic joints through an examination and consultation with Dr. Ellsworth. Contact the nearest office by phone or online to schedule your appointment. Your relief may start sooner than you think, so book now.