What Is ACJ Arthritis ?
Two joints in the shoulder may be affected by arthritis: the acromioclavicular joint, also known as the AC joint, which is where the clavicle (collarbone) meets the tip of the shoulder bone (acromion), and the glenohumeral joint, also known as the scapulothoracic joint, which is where the humerus (larger arm bone) meets the scapula (shoulder blade).
There are 3 main types of arthritis which affect the shoulder.
Osteoarthritis is the arthritis caused by wear and tear. It is a degeneration of the bone’s smooth surface (articular cartilage), and it most frequently affects adults over 50. The acromioclavicular shoulder joint suffers from it more frequently.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: The body’s immune system attacks the joint and the tissues nearby in this systemic inflammatory disorder of the synovium. Any age can have this type of arthritis, which typically impacts several joints on both sides of the body.
Post-traumatic arthritis is an osteoarthritis that develops as a result of an accident, such as a fracture, dislocation, or torn rotator cuff.
What Causes the Arthritis ?
Wear and tear from repeated use is the primary factor in AC joint arthrosis. Stress is put on the joint as a person uses their shoulder and arm. The cartilage is subjected to wear and tear as a result of this stress; as the cartilage ages, arthritis of the joint may develop. An older injury to the AC joint, such as ACJ detachment, is another factor. The arthritis condition may eventually be brought on by any action that can place strain on the joint, whether it is typical or severe.
AC joint arthritis is more likely to affect people who utilise their arms for prolonged periods of time. Constant overhead lifting, such as that done by weightlifters or overhead construction workers, can raise the disease’s incidence. Athletes who play contact sports or engage in any activity that could lead to a fall on the end of the shoulder are other susceptible people. Any blunt trauma to the shoulder during work, daily activities, or an accident may eventually result in osteoarthritis of the AC joint.
What Are the Symptoms?
In its early stages, AC joint osteoarthritis usually causes pain and tenderness in the front of the shoulder around the joint. The pain is often worse when the arm is brought across the chest, since this motion compresses the joint. The pain is vague and may spread to include the shoulder, the front of the chest, and the neck. If the joint has been injured in the past, there may be a bigger bump over the joint on the affected shoulder than on the unaffected shoulder. The joint may also click or snap as it moves.
How is it Diagnosed?
Osteoarthritis of the AC joint typically begins with discomfort and tenderness around the joint at the front of the shoulder. Since this motion compresses the joint, discomfort is frequently worsened when the arm is brought across the chest. The sensation is vague and may radiate to the neck, front of the chest, and shoulder. If the joint has previously been injured, the affected shoulder may have a larger hump above the joint than the unaffected shoulder. As it moves, the joint could possibly click or snap.
Exactly how is it diagnosed?
Initial nonsurgical treatment for osteoarthritis of the AC joint typically include rest and anti-inflammatory drugs such aspirin or ibuprofen. A physiotherapist may oversee a rehabilitation programme. An injection of cortisone may be helpful if the discomfort does not go away. Strong drug called cortisone lowers pain and inflammation. Although cortisone’s effects are frequently transient, they can provide quite effective pain relief in the short term.
If nonsurgical pain management doesn’t work, your doctor might suggest surgery. Resection arthroplasty is the most popular treatment for osteoarthritis of the AC joint. A tiny part of the clavicle’s end is cut off during a resection arthroplasty. This creates a gap between the acromion (the scapula component that connects to your shoulder) and the severed end of the clavicle, where the joint used to reside. To avoid harming the ligaments holding the joint together, your surgeon will take care not to remove too much of the clavicle’s tip during the procedure. Usually, less than 1 centimetre of the surface is removed. The joint is replaced by scar tissue while your body heals. Scar tissue permits movement but prevents the ends of the bones from scraping against one another.
These days, employing an arthroscope for this operation is more typical. A thin instrument called an arthroscope has a tiny TV camera attached to it. Through a very small incision, it enables the surgeon to operate inside the joint. Less harm could be done to the healthy tissues surrounding the joint as a result, hastening the healing process. An incision less than two inches long is made above the AC joint in the older, open approach of doing this surgery.
How Crucial is Rehabilitation Following Surgery?
The state of the shoulder muscles and tendons prior to surgery has the most impact on the success of the surgery for the surgical treatment of AC joint arthritis. Exercises usually start the day after surgery with an emphasis on shoulder, wrist, and hand motion; complete motion, not strength, is the goal of physiotherapy. After a surgery, strengthening workouts will start around a month later. To give the tissues time to mend, this delay is required. Starting your strengthening activities too soon could cause issues.
What Can I Do to Avoid Developing ACJ Arthritis?
- Maintain a healthy weight,
- Keep up with your regular activities, and stay active to prevent your muscle strength from deteriorating.
- You can maintain or even increase joint flexibility if you build up to a well-designed workout regimen.
- Limit repetitive overhead movements and only take a break if your joints are in excruciating pain.