Osteoarthritis [OA] is a common age related degenerative arthritis. It most commonly affects the knee and hip, however other joints like shoulder joints can also get affected. In osteoarthritis the smooth articular cartilage of the shoulder breaks down and abnormal bony growths called osteophtes develop. OA of shoulder is commonly associated with increasing age. However the risk increases further if there is prior injury to the shoulder like a fracture or dislocation.
As with most arthritis, pain is the predominant complaint. The patient may have pain during activities of the shoulder and there can even be pain even in the night while sleeping. There may also be reduction in the shoulder movements or sounds\noises from the shoulder.
The dianosis is made primary based on the history, clinical examination and X-rays.
Treatment of osteoarthritis is often multi modal. There is no cure, but treatments are available to manage symptoms. These include:
- Physical Activity
Exercising is one of the best treatments available for OA. It may be difficult to imagine working out when your joints are hurting, but they form an integral part of the holistic treatment of OA shoulder.
Pain killers: These include drugs called NSAIDs and other medication. Long term indiscriminate use of NSAIDs is to be condemned strongly and is associated with kidney , liver, gastric and other side effects.
Topical applications: Gels and sprays help in relieving pain and are not associated with many ill effects. Application of local heat is also effective in relieving some pain..
- Hyaluronic acid injection into the shoulder. Hyaluronic acid occurs naturally in joint fluid, acting as a shock absorber and lubricant. However, the acid appears to break down in people with osteoarthritis. The injections are done in a doctor’s office.
Physiotherapy helps in overcoming pain by means of guided exercises and modalities like Ultrasound, IFT etc.
Joint surgery can repair or replace severely damaged joints. Shoulder replacement is done severe cases of arthritis with no relief from other treatment modalities. Patients can expect good pain relief, functional range of movements and improved quality of life a joint replacement surgery if done correctly in an indicated patient.