What Treatments Are Available for Arthritis-Based Shoulder Pain?

Shoulder pain should ideally be resolved using simple medication, however if these ones fail to work, other treatments are available and can be administered by a doctor.

Physiotherapy and occupational therapy

Most shoulder pains can be resolved via physiotherapy. A physiotherapist will assess ones condition and put together a tailor made regimen suitable for one’s condition. Physiotherapy mostly aims at improving symptoms and restores function of the shoulder. Though this approach is dependent on whether one has an acute problem or a long standing chronic problem. Anyone can benefit from a physiotherapy program which may include;

  • Exercises aimed at strengthening weakened muscles, changing their coordination and improving function.
  • Obtaining advice on improving shoulder, neck and spine posture.
  • Exercises to ease and prevent stiffness.
  • Exercises to increase the range of joint movement.
  • Learning how to apply adhesive tape to the skin to reduce strain exerted on tissues and to help increase ones awareness of the position of the shoulder and shoulder blade.
  • Manual treatments to soft tissues and joints.

If your shoulder problem is interfering with performance of daily activities like dressing, bathing, driving and washing one should consider seeing an occupational therapist. This type of therapist can recommend use of aids and gadgets to reduce shoulder strain. A general practitioner can refer you to an occupational therapist. If the problems are encountered at work, an occupational therapist or a workplace health team can be consulted if there is one at the work place.

Steroid injections

Injections into the affected joint can ease shoulder problems. The steroid injection is usually accompanied by a local anesthesia and helps relieves shoulder problems very quickly.

Steroid injections also reduce inflammation allowing one to use the shoulder more comfortably, though not for any strenuous activities for the first few days following the injection. The pain relief one experiences following the injection should allow on to do physiotherapy to improve shoulder function.

It is ill advised to have injections very frequently and other forms of treatment should be sought if the pain keeps on coming back. One should also seek medical advice if the pain still persists two or more days after the injection. Steroid injections can also be carried with the aid of an ultrasound as this allows the proper projecting of inflamed tissues to help properly carry out the injection.


It is not common for one to undergo surgery for shoulder pain as most medications and therapy are quite effective but some conditions need surgery to resolve.

If surgery is recommended, it is carried out using the keyhole technique. This technique requires very small incisions and reduces the recovery time needed. The types of surgeries include;

  • Sub acromial decompression: In this surgery, bon and tissue is trimmed down from the acromion at the top of the shoulder. This surgery is helpful for severe or recurrent impingement syndrome by ensuring the rotor cuff tendons have enough space to move freely.
  • Repairing tears in the rotator cuff
  • Releasing the tight capsule of a frozen shoulder

However, in some occasions open surgery and not keyhole surgery is recommended especially when repairing large tears in the rotating cuff or for joint replacement.

Shoulder joint replacement surgery is well established as a treatment option and is successful in treating osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis especially when it gets to a point where severe pain limits use and movement of the shoulder.

A reverse geometry shoulder replacement is a newer type of surgery. In this procedure, the ball and socket are reversed if rotator cuff tendons are damaged as a result of arthritis.

It is important to do a lot of physiotherapy and exercise after surgery to help regain movement, though not in the spectrum that one could achieve pre total shoulder replacement surgery.

Research is still underway to find better and improved ways of handling shoulder arthritis.

Featured Image: DepositPhotos/plepraisaeng

Posted on April 20, 2017