Shoulder Injuries & Arthritis
What are Sports Injuries?
Sports injuries can occur during athletic activities, practices, or exercises.
Causes of Sports Injuries
Sports injuries may result from accidents, poor training practices, use of improper protective gear, lack of conditioning, and insufficient warm-up and stretching.
Types of Sports Injuries
Sports injuries may be either
- Acute: sprains, fractures, tears
- Chronic: tendonitis, overuse injury
Symptoms of Sports Injuries
Some of the common symptoms of sports injuries include:
- Cuts and abrasions
Diagnosis of Sports Injuries
Sports injuries are diagnosed with a detailed medical review and thorough physical examination. Your doctor may order certain imaging studies such as X-rays, MRI and CT scan to confirm the diagnosis.
Sports Injury Management
When you suffer an injury during sports events, never try to continue the activity in pain because it may cause further harm. Some injuries may require prompt attention by a doctor, while others can be treated at home with rest, application of ice.
You should seek medical treatment if:
- The injury is causing severe pain, swelling, or numbness.
- You are not able to put any weight on the injured area.
- The pain or dull ache of an old injury has increased along with swelling and joint instability.
If you do not have any of the symptoms mentioned above, you can adopt self-care treatment at home. You should follow the RICE method immediately after injury to relieve pain and inflammation. These steps should continue for at least 48 hours.
- Rest: You should take rest from regular exercises or daily activities as needed.
- Ice: Apply an ice pack over the injured area for 20 minutes at a time. This should be done four to eight times a day. A cold pack, ice bag, or plastic bag filled with crushed ice and wrapped in a towel can be used.
- Compression: Compress the injured area with elastic wraps, special boots, air casts, and splints. This helps to reduce swelling.
- Elevation: Keep the injured elbow or wrist elevated on a pillow, above the level of the heart. This is to help decrease swelling.
Your doctor may recommend other treatments to help your injury heal. These include:
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: These drugs reduce swelling and pain.
- Immobilization: Immobilization is minimizing the movement of the injured area to prevent further damage. It also reduces pain, swelling and muscle spasm. Slings are given to immobilize the arms and shoulders.
- Rehabilitation: Rehabilitation involves exercises that get the injured area back to normal conditions. Exercises start with gentle range-of-motion exercises followed by stretching and strengthening exercises.
- Other therapies: Other common therapies that help in the healing of sports injuries include mild electrical currents (electrostimulation), cold packs or cryotherapy, heat packs or thermotherapy, high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound), massage and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections.
- Surgery: Surgery is the last resort for the management of sports injuries and is indicated only if conservative techniques are not helpful. Surgeries are performed to repair torn tendons and ligaments or to realign the broken bones. Your surgeon may recommend an arthroscopic procedure or open techniques to treat your sports injuries.
What is Arthritis of the Shoulder?
The term arthritis literally means inflammation of a joint but is generally used to describe any condition in which there is damage to the cartilage. Damage of the cartilage in the shoulder joint causes shoulder arthritis. Inflammation is the body's natural response to injury. The warning signs that inflammation presents are redness, swelling, heat and pain.
The cartilage is a padding that absorbs stress. The proportion of cartilage damage and synovial inflammation varies with the type and stage of arthritis. Usually the pain early on is due to inflammation. In the later stages, when the cartilage is worn away, most of the pain comes from the mechanical friction of raw bones rubbing on each other.
What are the Types of Shoulder Arthritis?
There are over 100 different types of rheumatic diseases. The most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is also called as degenerative joint disease; this is the most common type of arthritis, which occurs often in older people. This disease affects cartilage, the tissue that cushions and protects the ends of bones in a joint. With osteoarthritis, the cartilage starts to wear away over time. In extreme cases, the cartilage can completely wear away, leaving nothing to protect the bones in a joint, causing bone-on-bone contact. Bones may also bulge, or stick out at the end of a joint, called bone spurs.
Osteoarthritis causes joint pain and can limit a person's normal range of motion (the ability to freely move and bend a joint). When severe, the shoulder joint may lose all movement, making a person disabled.
This is an auto-immune disease in which the body's immune system (the body's way of fighting infection) attacks healthy joints, tissues and organs. Occurring most often in women of child-bearing age (15-44), this disease inflames the lining (or synovium) of joints. It can cause pain, stiffness, swelling, and loss of function in joints. When severe, rheumatoid arthritis can deform, or change a joint.
Rheumatoid arthritis affects mostly joints of the hands and feet and tends to be symmetrical. This means the disease affects the same joints on both sides of the body (both hands or both feet) at the same time and with the same symptoms. No other form of arthritis is symmetrical. About two to three times as many women as men have this disease.
Causes of Shoulder Arthritis
Osteoarthritis is caused by the wearing out of the cartilage covering the bone ends in a joint. This may be due to excessive strain over prolonged periods of time, or due to other joint diseases, injury or deformity. Primary osteoarthritis is commonly associated with ageing and general degeneration of joints.
Secondary osteoarthritis is generally the consequence of another disease or condition, such as repeated trauma or surgery to the affected joint, or abnormal joint structures from birth.
Rheumatoid arthritis is often caused when the genes responsible for the disease is triggered by infection or any environmental factors. With this trigger, the body produces antibodies, the defense mechanism of the body, against the joint and may cause rheumatoid arthritis.
Symptoms of Shoulder Arthritis
There are several forms of arthritis and the symptoms vary according to the form of arthritis. Each form affects the body differently. Arthritic symptoms generally include swelling and pain or tenderness in the joints for more than two weeks, redness or heat in a joint, limitation of motion of a joint and early morning stiffness.
In an arthritic shoulder:
- The cartilage lining is thinner than normal or completely absent. The degree of cartilage damage and inflammation varies with the type and stage of arthritis.
- The capsule of the arthritic shoulder is swollen.
- The joint space is narrowed and irregular in outline; this can be seen in an X-ray image.
- Bone spurs or excessive bone can also build up around the edges of the joint.
Diagnosis of Shoulder Arthritis
Doctors diagnose arthritis with a medical history, a physical exam and X-rays of the affected part. Computed tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans are also performed to diagnose arthritis.
Treatment Options for Shoulder Arthritis
There is no cure for arthritis, so beware of 'miracle cures'. Your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medicine. He/she may recommend occupational therapy or physiotherapy, which includes exercises and heat treatment. In severe cases, surgery may be suggested. The type of surgery will depend on your age and severity of the condition. In the elderly with severe arthritis, joint replacement can give good results. Common surgery for treatment of shoulder arthritis arthroplasty (replacement of the damaged joint) may be total shoulder arthroplasty or hemiarthroplasty.