Many people say they have shoulder pain and then point from anywhere from the base of the neck to the upper arm. They may be right as the muscles for the shoulder do stretch over this whole area. However it will depend which shoulder joint is affected.
What many people don’t realise is a shoulder has two joints- the glenohumeral (GH) joint and the acromioclavicular (AC) joint. You can get in either but acromioclavicular osteoarthritis seems to becoming increasingly common.
To understand why this is we need to go back to the anatomy.
Most people know about the ball and socket joint at the top of the arm- the glenohumeral (GH) joint but there is a second joint at the front between the shoulder blade and the collar bone. This is the acromioclavicular (AC) joint.
The collar bone or clavicle is a wavy bone that runs along the top of the chest. The shoulder blade has a bit of bone that comes off the top and goes around to the front above the GH joint. These two bits of bone meet end on and are held there by a series of ligaments.
The acromioclavicular joint allows you to raise your arm above the head. It is the point which the shoulder pivots around and without it we would have a lot less shoulder movement. However by gaining mobility we have sacrificed stability and the AC joint is commonly injured as the end on end configuration is weak.
(Click on this link if you want a more in depth, medical type description of acromioclavicular osteoarthritis.)
Treatment Options For Acromioclavicular Osteoarthritis
As with all types of osteoarthritis there is no cure. So you have to learn to manage the condition. You will need to mix and match the following:
- Rest: do this when you are in pain.
- Activity: do this when you feel stiff.
- Heat pack: do this when you feel stiff.
- Cold pack: do this when you are in pain.
- Supplements: you can learn more about these here.
- Diet: this is a good book.
- Drugs: don’t use these unless all else fails!
- Physical therapy: unless you have money to burn you must get a self massage and exercise program that is suitable for the amount of degeneration and how your acromioclavicular osteoarthritis affects you.
and as a final option surgery.
How to Get Treatment Without Breaking the Bank!
As acromioclavicular osteoarthritis is a incurable you need to learn to manage it on a day to day basis. As you can see from the above list there is plenty you can do and it is really a question of finding what suits you.
However physical therapy is the backbone of any treatment program for acromioclavicular osteoarthritis and massage especially seems to help this joint better than most other joints. I think that is because the ligaments are so inflamed with it.
Massaging your AC joint is very simple and only takes a few minutes a day. You can learn how to do it correctly in How to Treat Shoulder Osteoarthritis Naturally.
Plus you will get more in depth information on all the above treatments including an exercise program with a severity questionnaire to make sure you do the correct number of each exercise tailor.
Click on the link to get your comprehensive treatment guide for acromioclavicular osteoarthritis.