Dr. Steinmann explains how shoulder arthritis is diagnosed.
It’s a little bit more of a difficult diagnosis compared to say, thumb arthritis and I mentioned earlier that an x-ray can show their arthritis fairly easily, but the pain from the shoulder arthritis could mimic other types of pain in the shoulder region.
Rotator cuff tears, for example, are more common in males and females than shoulder arthritis and they fracture. If a patient fell, say there was some sporting venture stepping off a curb, it could have happened a week ago or two days ago and then they have pain in their shoulder. That may be a certain cause for having pain in the shoulder.
Rotator cuff, as I said, is a very common reason for pain in the shoulder, and then women particularly are prone to something called frozen shoulder, which is out of the blue, so to speak. We don’t understand what it is. It’s not a dangerous diagnosis, but patients will notice. They will come in and say, “My shoulder doesn’t move the same as it used to and it’s stiff, and on top of that it hurts,” and that’s we call adhesive capsulitis, or frozen shoulder, and it’s a self-limiting process,s but very frustrating for the patient. It often goes away in a year or two, certainly with some therapy to help the motion, to keep the motion going.
But particularly in females, frozen shoulder, the pain of that, you have to determine is it arthritis, is it the rotator cuff, is it a fracture, is it frozen shoulder or is it run-of-the-mill shoulder arthritis? So there’s a lot of things, diagnoses, we need to consider before we just say, “This patient has shoulder arthritis.”
About Dr. Steinmann, M.D.:
Dr. Scott P. Steinmann, M.D., is on orthopedic surgery at the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center in Minnesota. Dr. Steinmann received his medical training from Cornell University Medical College in New York, completed his residency in orthopedics at New York Orthopedic Hospital and completed a fellowships focusing on the shoulder and hand surgery from Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center and Mayo Graduate School of Medicine respectively.