Unfortunately, there’s no cure for shoulder arthritis and the only way to treat this disease is by managing the associated symptoms. When used as part of a comprehensive treatment program prescribed by an orthopedic specialist, physical therapy can improve the painful symptoms of shoulder arthritis. Here’s everything you need to know:
How Arthritis Affects the Shoulder Joint
The shoulder is made up of the upper arm bone (humerus), scapula and clavicle. Arthritis can affect the shoulder at the acromioclavicular and glenohumeral joints.
Illustration 1– The joints of the shoulder
When left untreated, the severity of arthritis and related symptoms increase.
The Symptoms of Shoulder Arthritis
The most common symptom of shoulder arthritis is a deep, aching pain felt in the joint and/or on top of the shoulder. Other symptoms might include:
- Decreased range of motion (ROM)
- Cracking, clicking, and/or popping sounds when moving the shoulder
Any or all of these symptoms can reach the point where they begin to limit your ability to perform daily activities. It is at this point where professional treatment, in the form of physical therapy, is needed for symptom relief.
How Physical Therapy Decreases the Symptoms of Shoulder Arthritis
At Plymouth Bay Orthopedic Associates, our team of Physical Therapists uses the following treatments for effective symptom relief:
- Strengthening exercises. Improving the strength of the rotator cuff and other shoulder muscles decrease weakness and stiffness and increase range of motion
- Heat and ice. Applying heat relaxes the shoulder muscles to improve range of motion. Applying ice decreases inflammation and pain.
- Ultrasound and electrical stimulation. Activating weak muscles using ultrasound and electrical stimulation improves atrophy and weakness.
- Massaging shoulder and upper back muscles increases blow flow, which decreases inflammation and pain.
- Stretching exercises. Stretching exercises improve range of motion.
A comprehensive treatment program uses these treatments in conjunction with others that can only be prescribed by an orthopedic specialist. The result of this type of holistic treatment approach to shoulder arthritis often is symptom relief or elimination. In many cases, results are long lasting. The key is diagnosing and treating the condition as soon as possible.
Arranging an Appointment with an Orthopedic Specialist
If you’re experiencing shoulder pain and have yet to find relief, please contact our office to arrange an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists located in Duxbury and Sandwich, MA.
If Physical Therapy is one of the treatment options that’s right for you, you’ll be in a great position to live a functional, pain-free life. For over 20 years, our Massachusetts Board Certified Physical Therapists and Occupational Therapists along with our very dedicated Physical Therapy Assistants and Rehabilitation Aides have been providing superior physical and occupational therapy to our patients in the areas of general orthopedics, sports injuries, geriatric rehabilitation and hand/upper extremity injuries. The road to recovery starts when you walk through our doors!