Treating shoulder arthritis is better treated sooner than later. Usually, when doctors examine patients for the first time, they often notice people who have either been diagnosed with shoulder arthritis in the past, told that they need a shoulder replacement, or simply just come in with initial shoulder pain. Often what doctors see are individuals who may have sprained their shoulder, meaning that they have injured some of the ligaments that help to keep their shoulders stable. Ligaments are really dense fibrous tissue that helps hold all our bones together. There are actually several ligaments that surround the shoulder joint to help keep it in place. When people fall on to their out-stretched hand, or somehow injure their shoulders, the ligaments can become sprained. This results in loose ligaments that allow the bones to shift a little bit more than they should because ligaments hold bone-to-bone, and when the ligaments can’t do the job that they were naturally designed to do, the shoulder ball and socket model can move around a little bit more than it should.
Because of pain, individuals may take an anti-inflammatory medicine, rest their shoulders, or put some ice on it hoping that the pain goes away. It’s very well possible that the pain may go away, but the shoulder is still left slightly unstable. The reason why is that ligaments are white tissue. They do not have a great blood supply like red muscles, which have a very good blood supply, so ligaments do not tend to heal really well. Plus, if patients continue to use anti-inflammatory medicines, ice the joint, or perhaps even get a cortisone shot, this does not give ligaments a chance to heal because this will shut down any blood flow that’s going to that area.
When individuals have this initial injury and do not really do anything to heal it, the bones will continue to keep shifting more and more. Even when individuals mask the pain and continue to play tennis, basketball, or any other type of sport where this joint is getting considerable use, it’s just going to further the problem because now there is no pain, but there is still a lot of activity going on with the unstable joint.
If an individual keeps active through the months and years, the bone will continue to shift and move more than it should, and the body is going to react. Initially, it is going to swell the area as a way to keep a false stability there. By shutting down that swelling with anti-inflammatory medications and cortisone shots, eventually the body will think of other ways to help stabilize the area. Long term, it’s actually going to start to overgrow bone.
When looking at X-rays, doctors will see people who have bones spurs, and extra bony projections that are growing off the bones in their shoulder because that’s the only way the body knows how to react. If people continue to keep playing tennis or other types of sports while masking the pain, that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing else going on. If enough bones spurs are developed, these can actually start to pinch on the rotator cuff, tendons, muscles, ligaments and all the other tissue that surrounds the shoulder which can result in lots of pain.
Some people will ignore the pain and they may not use their shoulder much, keeping their elbow to the side. Long term, this can develop into what is known as a “frozen shoulder,” where there is very little shoulder movement available. People cannot do simple things such as brushing their hair or brushing their teeth because they just haven’t taken care of the initial problem. This is when a treatment called “Prolotherapy” comes in. Prolotherapy will help strengthen ligaments to return stability back to the joint and help a person to become pain-free and to continue playing sports and being active while using the shoulder for normal every day living.
If a person procrastinates and develops bones spurs, the condition becomes a little more problematic. There is more pain and limited use of the shoulder. If the problem is completely ignored and nothing is done for a very long time, the shoulder most likely will have to be replaced because there is just too much extra bone that has grown in.