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Osteoarthritis of the shoulder

Osteoarthritis is a common condition which can affect any joint. When it affects the shoulder it may be in either the main joint (the glenohumeral) or the a smaller joint (the acromioclavicular joint) where the top of your shoulder blade meets your collarbone.

Osteoarthritis may result from previous injuries or abnormal stresses. The cartilage becomes thinner and spurs of extra bone (osteophytes) may form which alter the shape of your joint and affect how it moves.

It's likely to cause pain and reduce the movement of your shoulder. If the acromioclavicular joint is affected, you may notice the pain when you:

  • stretch across your body
  • reach up high above your head
  • lie on the affected site.

Treatment will depend on your level of pain and how much your range of movement is affected. Physiotherapy can be very helpful but you may also need painkillers. If you have a flare-up you might need a course of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory tablet (NSAIDs).

steroid injection may be helpful, especially for the acromioclavicular joint. If these treatments don't give you enough pain relief you may need to consider joint replacement surgery.

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