Shoulder Arthritis

Shoulder pain can be severely limiting in all aspects of life and can greatly interfere with your quality of life, especially when you have shoulder arthritis. Arthritis cannot be cured with physical therapy, but therapy has been shown to prevent surgery in many cases.


Symptoms

Many times with shoulder arthritis, you will hear cracking or clicking when trying to move the shoulder. This is called crepitus and is very common with this diagnosis.  Shoulder pain and stiffness are other common symptoms.

Causes

Arthritis is inflammation within a joint. The glenohumeral joint is the main shoulder joint. It is a “ball and socket” joint, made up of the head of the humerus (“ball”) and the glenoid cavity (“socket”).The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis can be described as the breaking down of the cartilage. Cartilage is the lining over the ends of two bones that make a joint. Symptoms of shoulder arthritis include pain, stiffness, swelling, and redness in the joint. You may notice your symptoms feel worse in the mornings and ease up throughout the day. “Wear and tear,” genetics, and prior injury can put you at risk for arthritis.

Diagnosis

At Specialized Physical Therapy, we will conduct a thorough medical history review focused on your specific symptoms to determine the cause of your symptoms. A physical therapist is trained to identify signs and symptoms consistent with rotator cuff tears, shoulder arthritis, impingement, and other common shoulder injuries. Your physical therapist will also analyze your past medical history, activity level, and standing posture, which aids in creating a treatment protocol.

Treatment and Exercises

After a thorough initial evaluation, your therapist will create an individualized physical therapy program to diminish your symptoms as quickly as possible. The program can include stretches, massage, shoulder mobilizations, and strengthening exercises specific to your goals. The treatment will be structured to first identify why the pain started, to reduce swelling and pain, to regain mobility, and to return you to your prior level of function.

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