Two common shoulder problems are arthritis and bursitis. Your shoulders are packed with bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Shoulder pain can develop from a variety of conditions that affect one, if not many, of these structures. While this can make it difficult to pinpoint the exact source of your shoulder pain, an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment are the keys to recovery. Arthritis and bursitis are two of the most common causes of shoulder pain; however, they can be difficult to differentiate. The following article will help you determine if your shoulder pain is caused by arthritis or bursitis…
Symptoms of Shoulder Osteoarthritis
This may be the type of arthritis that first comes to mind when you hear that term. There are two main types of shoulder osteoarthritis: glenohumeral (relating to the glenoid cavity and the humerus). Arthritis and acromioclavicular (relating to the articulation between the clavicle and the scapula and its ligaments) arthritis. Osteoarthritis (OA) causes joint pain from wear and tear over many years. It alters your entire joint and isn’t currently reversible. Usually, OA occurs when the cartilage in the joint breaks down over many years. Cartilage provides padding between bones in your joints. Without enough cartilage, it can become very painful to move your joint.
For both types, your symptoms will typically include a combination of the following symptoms…
- Pain Comes and Goes – The pain may come and go but it will build up gradually. It can get worse over months and years.
- Pain Caused By Inactivity – If you notice more pain in the morning with your first movements of the day but feel better the more you move around.
- Loss of Motion – Not being able to raise your arm over your head to put on your shirt.
- Pain From Activities – Glenohumeral arthritis will cause pain when you lift a bag of groceries and acromioclavicular arthritis will cause pain as you reach across your body to buckle your seat belt.
Aging, overuse of the joint, injury, and being overweight can influence your likelihood of developing OA. However, while there is no cure for shoulder osteoarthritis, there are many treatments to help slow down its progression and reduce pain.
Signs of Shoulder Bursitis
Bursitis occurs when a fluid-filled sac called a bursa swells. You have bursitis throughout your body near your joints that provide padding between your bones, skin,muscles adn tendons. You may experience this inflammation of the bursa if you engage in an activity that requires repetitive motion like a sport, hobby, or manual work. If the bursa become inflamed, it is called shoulder bursitis.
Potential symptoms include…
- Pain Triggered By Movement – Similar to osteoarthritis.
- Pain On Top and Outside Of Shoulder – This is where the bursa is located. If you lay on your side and put pressure on this spot it will trigger pain.
- Pain Caused By Activity – This is unlike osteoarthritis, in which the pain is worse with inactivity. In fact, the repetitive motion of people like painters, tennis players, swimmers, and baseball pitchers may experience bursitis.
Diabetes, crystal deposition (gout), and infections may also cause the condition. It’s generally a temporary condition that goes away after a few weeks of treatment. It may come back from time to time. It can become chronic if it’s not treated or if it’s caused by another condition.
When To See Your Doctor
If you’ve been experiencing joint pain for a few weeks or longer, visit your doctor. You should see a doctor right away if you become unable to move your joint, notice the joint is very swollen and the skin is overly red, experience severe symptoms that interfere with your ability to complete daily activities. You should also see your doctor if you have a fever or flu-like symptoms along with joint pain. A fever may be a sign of an infection. See your doctor for a proper diagnosis, as each condition is treated differently. Bursitis is usually a temporary form of joint pain, while OA is a longer-lasting form.
For persistent joint pain that is interfering with your daily activities, see a Tristate rheumatologist to make the correct diagnosis and begin the proper treatment.
Contact Us (859-331-3100) For More Information to Request an Appointment
Tristate Arthritis and Rheumatology is first and largest Rheumatology practice in the Northern Kentucky area. Founded by Dr. Arthur Kunath in 1986, our rheumatology practice now consists of six doctors who are board certified in both Internal Medicine and Rheumatology and a Physician Assistant. Patients see one doctor (except in emergencies), thereby assuring continuity of care and an individualized doctor-patient atmosphere giving the physician the ability to establish personalized and detailed relationships. Our doctors have received numerous awards, including being listed as “Top Doctors” in Cincinnati Magazine, receiving the Patient’s Choice Award, the Most Compassionate Doctor Award, and the American College of Rheumatology’s “My Doc Rocks” award.
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