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Shoulder osteoarthritis (arthrosis)

Shoulder osteoarthritis (arthrosis)

Even the simplest of tasks like putting on a jacket, washing your hair, or reaching up to a high shelf can cause pain for some people. When every arm movement causes a flash of pain through your body, your quality of life deteriorates. If this is the case, wear and tear in your shoulder (arthrosis) could be cause.

There are a number of ways to effectively treat arthrosis in your shoulder, resolving the issue, reducing your symptoms and allowing you to return to a normal function again. Our arthrosis specialists at Schoen Clinic have several years of experience and highly customised treatment concepts, tailored to each individual case for maximum effect. We will get your pain under control with the help of medication, conservative measures, or if necessary, by means of surgery.

Arthrosis or arthritis? understanding the difference

While the two may sound similar, it is important to note that arthrosis and arthritis are not the same thing. Arthritis is the ‘umbrella’ term which covers all types of arthritis, from rheumatoid or psoriatic, to osteoarthritis or gout. Arthrosis is the type of arthritis more commonly known as osteoarthritis. It is the medical term for chronic and slowly progressing wear and tear of a joint, the condition occurs when the cartilage that lies in the joint space between your bones begins to deteriorate.

Shoulder arthrosis: what is damaged?

Your shoulder consists of three bones that are covered in cartilage tissue, lubricated and protected by joint fluid. The two main bones which make up the shoulder joint are the scapula (shoulder blade) and the humerus (upper arm bone). If the cartilage tissue is damaged or worn due to overuse, the two bones in the joint will rub together and the surrounding tissue will become inflamed. This causes pain in the shoulder and restricts mobility. As more of the cartilage is worn away over time, the bone is abraded with every movement and the associated pain can increase as the condition progresses.

Symptoms indicating osteoarthritis of the shoulder

Shoulder pain is the most common symptom of arthritis of the shoulder, which is aggravated by activity and increasingly worsens over time. As there are several possible types of arthritis that can affect the shoulder, there is a range of symptoms to be wary of.

  • Limited range of motion
  • Grinding or clicking sounds with movement
  • Shoulder pain at night
  • Pain around the shoulder spreading into the upper arm
  • Pain and stiffness are often worse first thing in the morning, or after long periods of rest
  • Pain on top of the shoulder or end of the collarbone
  • Pain can sometimes be felt in the side of the neck

Causes: how does shoulder arthrosis occur?

Osteoarthritis is a condition that erodes the smooth lining (articular cartilage) of a joint. As the cartilage wears away, it becomes frayed and rough, and the protective space between the bones decreases. During movement, the bones of the shoulder joint rub against each other, causing pain.

Osteoarthritis usually affects people over 50 years of age and is common in the glenohumeral (ball and socket) shoulder joint and the acromioclavicular joint (end of collar bone) joint. Though osteoarthritis is one of the most common, there are other types of arthritis that can affect the shoulder joint. These include rheumatoid, post-traumatic and rotator cuff tear arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory process that affects the lining of the joint causing swelling and pain. Post-traumatic arthritis can occur after fractures of the upper arm bone or dislocation of the shoulder joint. Rotator cuff tear arthritis occurs after large, long-standing rotator cuff tendon tears. The torn rotator cuff can no longer hold the ball of the joint firm in the socket, causing it to rub up and down. This can damage the surfaces of the joint, causing arthritis in the shoulder to develop.

Attaining an accurate diagnosis

To be able to start the right treatment for arthrosis in the shoulder, we first perform a comprehensive clinical examination of your shoulder joint. The shoulder joint and its tendons and muscles are examined to identify any major functional deficits or weaknesses. Special imaging will be required to confirm the condition of your bones and joint space.

Diagnostic imaging

X-rays are necessary to confirm the diagnosis. The X-ray provides information about the distance between the two joint bones: the more cartilage already lost due to friction in the joint, the smaller this spacing becomes. If there is chronic damage to the rotator cuff, the humeral head under the shoulder socket will be higher on the X-ray. This confirms the of arthrosis in the shoulder.

By using ultrasound scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), our specialists can also precisely determine the extent of the defects in the tendon cuff and secondary inflammatory reactions. To plan a shoulder joint prosthesis, we may also perform a computer tomography (CT) if there are larger bone defects and major changes in the original joint. The CT allows our experts, with the help of special computer programmes, to create a 3D simulation of your joint and the surgery to be performed. If necessary, in complex cases, individual, patient-specific implants and devices will be created.