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My shoulder hurts...is it osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a very common problem. Most people know someone who is dealing with arthritis of at least one joint. Spine, hips, knees, and hands are the most common places for osteoarthritis to cause symptoms. However, any joint can be affected and a common question I hear when a patient presents with shoulder pain is: Do I have arthritis?
First, a bit of anatomy -- the shoulder is composed of two separate joints:
(1) the acromioclavicular joint where the collarbone meets the shoulder bone (2) the glenohumeral joint where the ball of the humerus articulates with the shoulder blade (scapula). Both joints can be affected by osteoarthritis. It is relatively uncommon for osteoarthritis to develop in the glenohumeral joint without a history of trauma or previous injury. We'll discuss that in a minute. First, let's review the acromioclavicular joint.
Causes of Shoulder Pain Besides Arthritis The glenohumeral joint is the most mobile j...
As a kid, our family always joked about my shoulders. In elementary school, one of the requirements in physical education was climbing a rope. I could never do it. I admitted at the time that I was a wimp. I was a bit better by junior high when gym class offered a segment on tennis. I got to be pretty good, developing a great one-hand backhand although I never had a killer serve.
By middle age, I’ve found that my shoulders can still be a problem area if I’m not careful. Several years ago, I went geocaching with a friend in a wilderness area and she took us up a sharp hill to hunt for a cache. What comes up must come down, which meant I had to negotiate a steep decline after looking for the cache. I grabbed a tree to help stabilize my descent; that seemed to go well at the time, but a few days later, I was in pain. The discomfort lasted for a while and, while not formally diagnosed, it’s taken some targeted massage therapy and some focused exercises to re...
"Separation" of the acromioclavicular (AC) joint, where the end of the collarbone meets the shoulder blade, is actually a sprain of the ligaments that connect the two bones. "Separation" is an old medical term that has been applied to the widening of the space between the bones. Since this problem involves ligaments, it really should be called a sprain. AC separation is typically an injury of young, active people who fall on the shoulder. Most commonly, it occurs when a person lands on the point of the shoulder, driving the shoulder blade down relative to the clavicle. Patients often tell of being thrown over the handlebars when bicycling, being tackled while playing football, or being upended while skiing. As with sprains , there are degrees of severity. Weight lifters, in particular those who do bench presses, often get AC separation. It can also occur in other situations where lifting occurs, or with injury such as falling on the shoulder. A mild, or first-degree, s...
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