Shoulder Arthritis and its types

Arthritis is a common word used to refer to any joint pain or joint disease. Shoulder Arthritis is a painful condition of the shoulder. Shoulder being the most mobile joint of the body undergoes a lot of wear and tear. When the protective cartilage surrounding the bone breaks down, it can cause shoulder arthritis. The most common symptom of shoulder arthritis is pain and inflammation.

    There are 5 common types of Shoulder Arthritis:

    1.Rheumatoid Arthritis
    Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic long-term auto-immune disease that affects the lining of the shoulder joints. It does not affect the cartilage between the joints. Auto-immune disease means the body’s immune system which is supposed to defend the body by attacking foreign element like viruses and bacteria mistakenly start attacking the joints. Chronic inflammation during Rheumatoid Arthritis can cause permanent joint destruction and deformity. Rheumatoid factor is an antibody that can be found in most of the patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis.
    The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is not known however it is believed to be a result of combination of genetic and environmental factors.

It is most classic type of Arthritis which is a degenerative joint disease caused because of wear and tear of the shoulder due to age or trauma. Older people, over the age of 50, are generally susceptible to develop osteoarthritis. Shoulder osteoarthritis involve two primary processes:

The cartilage in the joints break down and
Bony growths called osteophytes develop in the joint which causes friction

Osteoarthritis is more commonly found in the Acromioclavicular (AC) joint.

3.Post-traumatic Arthritis

This type of arthritis is caused post an injury. Shoulder fractures and shoulder dislocations may often lead to post-traumatic arthritis. Injuries due to sports and other accidents may also lead to this type of arthritis. Car accidents are reported to be the most common ways of getting post-traumatic arthritis.

After certain injuries, the bones may not heal the way they are normally supposed to heal. This then affects how the joint works and moves which puts additional pressure on the cartilage. Overall, it will cause wear and tear of the shoulder joints.

4.Avascular Necrosis
Avascular Necrosis is a condition where a portion of the bone of humeral head looses its blood supply and dies. Various terms are used for Avascular Necrosis as follows:

Ischemic Necrosis
Aseptic Necrosis
Bone infarction

In the shoulder joint, there is continuous process of remodeling of bones. Old bone dies and new bones are formed. However, due to loss of blood supply in the bone of the humeral head, the cells that produce new bone die. Without the formation of new bone, the old structure looses strength and collapses thus affecting the normal functioning of the shoulder joint. This is called Avascular Necrosis.

5.Rotator Cuff Tear Arthropathy
Rotator Cuff is made up of four muscles that surround the humeral head of the shoulder. These muscles are attached to the bone by tendons. Due to age or injury, the rotator cuff develops tear. If tears are left untreated, they enlarge and involve a larger portion of the rotator cuff. The muscles will be no longer attached to the bone and this affects the shoulder strength and stability which leads to Rotator Cuff Tear Arthropathy. Not all cuff tears leads to cuff tear arthropathy. The factors that causes certain patients to develop arthritis is not fully understood.

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