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...
"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...
Does John McCain have shoulder osteoarthritis? Is that why he has trouble elevating his arms above his head?
Whatever your political views may be, hopefully we can all agree that we owe a profound debt of gratitude to Sen. John McCain for his honorable service during the Vietnam War. I do not provide medical care for Sen. McCain and I do not know his personal medical history, but a patient with shoulder pain asked me "What's wrong with McCain's shoulders and why can't he raise his hands above his head?"
There are many reasons why a person may not be able to raise his hands high above his head. Many of them deal with shoulder problems. With the disclaimer once more that I don't know Sen. McCain's medical history or the extent of the injuries he incurred as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, there are certain reasonable hypotheses one could make.
While shoulders are not common joints to develop significant osteoarthritis, they are much more prone to developing osteoarthritis if they...
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