Degeneration & Osteoarthritis

What Is Degeneration & Osteoarthritis?

With wear and tear to the joint surfaces over the years, joint cartilage begins to wear thin. This process is called degeneration, or osteoarthritis. The joint cartilage (not to be confused with the glenoid labrum cartilage) is the cartilage that lines the surface of the ball and socket joint so that there is a smooth, cushioned and very slippery articulation between the ball and socket joint. Normally this cartilage is very thick. But with cartilage degeneration, thinner joint cartilage means that the space between the bones is less. This can lead to impingement syndrome, as well as to increased stress to the bones. The increased stress to the bones leads to a thickening and roughening of the bony part of the ball and socket complex. This thickening and roughening of the joints is referred to as "spurring" or joint spurs. Joint spurs are like sharp, projections of bone that can damage surrounding tendons and muscles, as well as severely restrict normal joint motion. In the AC joint, spurs can tear into parts of the supraspinatus tendon.

What's Going Wrong In Degeneration & Osteoarthritis?

1. Adhesion. Longstanding injuries of all types (Impingement, Tendonitis, Rotator Cuff Tears, etc.) and adhesions in the shoulder will most likely lead to osteoarthritis of the shoulder. Adhesions in the shoulder initially can create pain, stiffness, weakness, inflammation, and misalignment in the shoulder joint leading to increased wear and tear. However, those problems over 15 years dramatically MULTIPLY the wear and tear on the shoulder joint leading to early arthritis. NOTE: Many people who have an arthritic shoulder cannot remember any serious injuries to their shoulder in the past. Instead, they will say the pain came on just a few months or even just a few years ago. What they didn't realize, was that the shoulder probably developed adhesions many years ago with very mild injuries that didn't seem like much. Those injuries gradually increased the wear and tear on the joint and years later created arthritis.
2. Strength and Flexibility Imbalances. Imbalance and weakness of the rotator cuff muscles as well as the scapula stabilizers can create imbalance and misalignment in the shoulder joint (usually the shoulders will pull forward). If the shoulders are not balanced properly, wear and tear on the joint will increase. Over the years, the joint will begin to deteriorate and arthritis will be very likely.
3. Structural Damage or Alteration. Any type of structural damage to the cartilage or the joint will accelerate the wear and tear inside the shoulder. This will start a degenerative process much earlier than expected. In some cases, arthritis could develop while someone is still in their 20's (usually arthritis is not seen until someone reaches their 40's, twenty years later).

How Can ART Help Degeneration & Osteoarthritis?

Along with the breakdown of cartilage and the development of spurs, the joint capsule and surrounding muscles begin to develop more adhesion as a result of the chronic irritation. Removing the adhesions in an osteoarthritic case will usually result in a decreased level of shoulder pain, with increase EASE of movement, and some increase in range of motion. How much relief can be obtained using ART depends largely on how severe the shoulder degeneration is, how well the individual exercises their shoulders, and how much ART treatment is rendered. In these cases, the more exercise and the more ART sessions, the better. It should be noted though, that moderate and severe cases are unlikely to achieve complete restoration of range of motion.

Surgical alternatives for such conditions primarily include the trimming away of the sharp bony spurs. Shoulder joint replacements are used sparingly and only in the most severe of cases, since shoulder joint replacements result in only marginal restoration of shoulder function.

Success Stories Of Those With Degeneration & Osteoarthritis