woman talking to doctor about shoulder pain

Care for Shoulder Arthritis in Central GA

What is Osteoarthritis of the Shoulder?

Although osteoarthritis, or the degeneration of the cartilage and joint tissues within the body, is most common in the hip and knee, it can also affect the shoulder. Shoulder osteoarthritis is an extremely painful condition that impacts nearly 1 in 3 people over the age of 60. The shoulder is made up of two different joints – the acromioclavicular (AC) joint and the glenohumeral joint. Osteoarthritis can affect either of these joints and occurs when the cartilage in the shoulder begins to break down. As this happens, the cartilage becomes frayed and rough, with less of a protective layer present between the bones. The bones then begin to rub against each other with movement, causing pain and friction. Osteoarthritis can occur in the shoulder because of a previous injury or infection. Participation in sports or having certain occupations (for example, heavy construction) can also increase your risk. In some cases, osteoarthritis has no specific cause and is simply linked to age and genetics. At OrthoGeorgia, we are proud to help patients of all ages overcome arthritis pain and live more comfortable lives. Learn more below about this common condition and contact the OrthoGeorgia office location nearest you for comprehensive orthopaedic care.

How Do I Know if I Have Shoulder Osteoarthritis?

Shoulder osteoarthritis most commonly presents with pain in the shoulder that worsens over time and with activity. As the disease progresses, pain will be present more often, including while you are at rest, and may keep you awake at night. The location of pain depends on the specific shoulder joint that is affected.

  • Osteoarthritis in the glenohumeral joint causes global pain in the shoulder. This pain may feel like a deep ache.
  • Osteoarthritis in the AC joint causes pain at the top of the shoulder made worse by crossing your arm across your body.

Pain is not the only symptom of arthritis. Those with osteoarthritis of the shoulder are likely to experience decreased range of motion in the shoulder that makes it difficult to perform daily tasks. Things like brushing your hair or reaching something on a high shelf may become nearly impossible. It is also common for those with shoulder arthritis to hear a clicking or grinding noise when moving the shoulder.

How is Osteoarthritis in the Shoulder Diagnosed?

When you visit a doctor for shoulder pain and stiffness, they will start by discussing your medical history and examining your shoulder. They will check the shoulder for weakness, tenderness, range of motion, and signs of previous injury. From there, your doctor may order X-rays to get a detailed glimpse of the area. An X-ray of a shoulder joint affected by arthritis will show a narrowed joint space, bone changes, and the formation of bone spurs. All of our offices in Central GA are equipped with digital X-ray machines to help us reach the most accurate diagnosis for each patient. Once a proper diagnosis is made and your shoulder arthritis has been identified, we will create a personalized treatment plan that takes your needs into account.

How is Shoulder Arthritis Treated in Central GA?

Since osteoarthritis is a chronic disease, there is no cure. However, there are a variety of ways to ease the pain of arthritis and stay active throughout the year. Your doctor will discuss the best next steps for you. Pain management techniques are usually nonsurgical with surgery reserved for more severe cases.

Nonsurgical Shoulder Arthritis Treatment

There are a wide range of conservative efforts that can be taken to relieve osteoarthritis symptoms in the shoulder. The most basic is a simple change in activities and finding ways to move your arm that are less likely to cause pain. NSAIDs such as Aleve or ibuprofen can help to reduce inflammation and pain. Applying moist heat and/or ice to the shoulder several times a day can also provide relief. Along with medications and activity changes, physical therapy can help those with arthritis to improve range of motion, strength, and function in the shoulder. Physical therapy may not be needed unless your arthritis has worsened and range of motion has decreased. Exercises should only be performed if they do not cause additional pain. Also, cortisone injections can provide pain relief for shoulder arthritis. Your doctor will let you know if this treatment method is right for you. One must wait 3 months after a cortisone shot to have surgery on the shoulder.

Surgical Treatment for Osteoarthritis of the Shoulder in Central GA

If nonsurgical treatment methods are not successful, your doctor may recommend shoulder surgery. Milder cases of arthritis can potentially be treated via arthroscopy. During this procedure, a small camera is inserted into the shoulder joint to guide the surgeon and their small surgical instruments. During the procedure, the surgeon cleans out the inside of the joint, removing loose pieces of cartilage or bone. Arthroscopic procedures provide patients with a number of benefits, including smaller incisions, a lower risk of complications, and a faster recovery time. For those with advanced shoulder arthritis, shoulder replacement may be the best option. This procedure relieves arthritis pain and usually lasts many years. During a standard total shoulder replacement, the ball and socket parts of the joint are replaced with metal and plastic parts. A reverse total shoulder replacement is another option, especially for those with a rotator cuff tear along with arthritis. If you are struggling with shoulder arthritis symptoms and conservative treatments have not provided relief, your doctor will talk to you about surgery. We will ensure that you fully understand your options and that any concerns you have are addressed.

Total Joint Replacement Specialists at OrthoGeorgia

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Jonathan S. Harris, MD
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Dennis K. Jorgensen, MD
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Todd E. Kinnebrew, MD
Dr. Gregory Lee headshot
Gregory P. Lee, MD
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Brian J. Ludwig, MD
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Wood D. Pope, MD
Dr. Joseph Slappey headshot
Joseph E. Slappey Jr., MD
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Timothy R. Stapleton, MD
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Richard J. Thomas, MD
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Robert M. Thornsberry, MD
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Matthew J. Toth, MD
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Zaneb Yaseen, MD

Total Joint Care Locations

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Macon Urgent Care

3708 Northside Drive, Building A, Macon, GA 31210

Call (478) 745-4206

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Spine Center

3708 Northside Drive, Building B, Macon, GA 31210

Call (478) 745-4206

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Warner Robins Urgent Care

301 Margie Drive, Warner Robins, GA 31088

Call (478) 971-1153

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Kathleen Orthopaedic Center

2510 GA-127, Kathleen, GA 31047

Call (478) 971-1153

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OrthoGeorgia Milledgeville office

2803 North Columbia Street, Suite D, Milledgeville, GA 31061

Call (478) 414-5820

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222 Perry Hwy, Bldg B, Hawkinsville, GA 31036, USA

Call (478) 971-1153

Awards and Affiliations

Viewers Choice 2020
The Telegraph Best of 2021
Greater Macon Business of Year
Go Beyond Proffit Member
Top 100
AAAHC Accreditation
ACR Radiology Computed
ACR Radiology Magnetic
ACR Radiology Magnetic
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Greater Macon Business of Year