The most common cause of disability in the United States is arthritis. The cartilage in the joints become thinner and less supportive, and in most cases, inflammation sets in, causing pain and stiffness. This inflammation can translate into acromioclavicular joint arthritis, which affects nearly 50 million people.
What is Acromioclavicular Arthritis?
This joint joins the shoulder with the tip of the clavicle, and is a frequent cause of a painful shoulder. It’s more common in older adults and typically caused by the deterioration of cartilage. However, another cause can be a traumatic one, due to repeated contusions to the shoulder, typical in contact sports.
The most common symptoms of arthritis in the shoulder are limitation of movement and pain, but it is most often felt when lying on the shoulder, when resting or sleeping. Many people initially ignore the pain until it becomes annoying and unbearable.
Problems that Occur with Acromioclavicular Arthritis
As with arthritis affecting the other joints of the body, this arthritis in the shoulder also comes with pain and swelling, particularly when activities are carried out. The joint can tear, causing swelling and formation of bone spurs in the affected area. However, the spurs are not a fundamental origin of pain, but rather a symptom of arthritis.
Arthritis related to the acromioclavicular joint is common, especially in bodybuilders, and found in individuals who practice exercises such as bent over rows with standing barbells, and the military press. Arthritis of the acromioclavicular joint can also be found where there are on-going issues with the rotator cuff muscles.
There is no way to replace cartilage impaired due to arthritis. Because of this, the main way to control arthritic symptoms is by changing the daily regimen so you don’t further irritate the condition. Applying ice to the ligaments will assist in diminishing pain and inflammation. Also, commonly used over-the-counter drugs like aspirin are used. Unfortunately, these solutions only treat the symptoms.
When Over-The-Counter Treatments Don’t Work
If rest, ice, a healthy diet, and OTC drugs do not relieve pain and inflammation, then having a doctor prescribe a cortisone cure should be the next step. Surgery can also be the next measures. Since the pain is caused by contact at the end of the bones, the surgery will consist of the removal of an end portion of the clavicle. The surgical solution usually consists of a small incision about one inch long, and most patients return to full joint movement after about six weeks, and start playing sports after twelve weeks.
If the shoulder joint is excessively worn to cause partial articulation of the joint, a procedure called arthroplasty may be suggested. This is a joint replacement operation. After the operation, passive shoulder exercises will be performed. Exercises are an important part of recovery and contribute to increasing the strength, flexibility and mobility of the joint.
Inflammation and pain can compromise the quality of life also limiting the functionality of the arms so it’s always best to see a doctor for a correct diagnosis and discuss the best course of treatment.