The shoulder joint, or glenohumeral joint, is one of the largest and most complex joints in the human body. It takes a “ball and socket” form joining the upper arm, the humerus, and the glenoid socket of the shoulder blade or scapula. Synovial fluid cushions the connection to prevent friction. When there is injury, fluid builds up and effusion occurs. We discuss the causes, diagnosis, and treatment in depth, below.
How To Treat Glenohumeral Joint Effusion
What are the Symptoms of Glenohumeral Joint Effusion?
Below are the symptoms of glenohumeral joint effusion. The occurrence may vary depending on the cause.
- Bruising (if caused by an injury)
- Warmth in the affected area
- Unbearable pain when standing or walking
Why Does Glenohumeral Joint Effusion Occur?
Causes of Glenohumeral joint effusion:
- Shoulder strain
- Repetitive sports injury
- Torn ligaments or cartilage
- Bacterial infection within the joint
- Bone fracture
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
Who is at Risk of Getting Glenohumeral Joint Effusion?
Everyone is at risk of getting shoulder joint effusion but some are more at risk than others:
- Older people – Risk increases with age.
- Athletes – Strenuous training can cause fluid build up in the joints.
- People who are overweight – Excess weight puts more stress on the joints.
- People with arthritis
Many sports which have ‘cut-and-run’ maneuvers increase the risk of joint effusion. Examples of these are football, soccer, and tennis.
When Should One See A Doctor?
Regular joint pain and swelling subside after resting and applying ice to the affected area. A few other home remedies for joint effusion, such as a warm bath or a massage, can also be tried.
When a serious injury is sustained and non-medicinal remedies don’t work, it is time to see the doctor. Ache or inflammation that lasts for days indicates a serious injury. In severe cases, the joints cannot bend or move without extreme discomfort.
Where Should One Go For Glenohumeral Joint Diagnosis?
Prior to treatment, the doctor will examine the patient’s medical history. Previous knee or joint conditions, like arthritis, will be duly noted. The doctor will, then, perform a physical exam on the affected joints, testing the range of motion. If the diagnosis is unclear, the doctor may request diagnostic exams.
Diagnostic Tests for Glenohumeral Joint Effusion
- Synovial Fluid Analysis. A medical professional will extract fluid from the joint and test it for crystals, infection-causing bacteria, protein, and glucose. A positive result may indicate gout. The lab will also test the fluid for blood cells that may indicate injury to the joint.
- Blood Chemistry. Doctors may draw blood from the patient to check for levels of inflammation and presence of antibodies or infection.
- Imaging Tests. X-ray, ultrasound, or MRI read the structural changes and erosions in the joint, the location and amount of fluid, cartilage loss, and presence of loose tissue fragments.
Treatment for Glenohumeral Joint Effusion
The type of treatment will rely on diagnosis results. Depending on the injury and severity, it ranges from physical therapy to oral medication to invasive treatment procedures:
- Antibiotics to fight infection
- Anti-inflammatories like corticosteroids to reduce swelling
- Analgesics to relieve discomfort
- Joint aspiration to drain fluid from the joint in order to relieve pressure resulting from excess fluid
- Physical therapy to improve flexibility and strength of the supporting muscles
- Supplements like Joint Repair Complex
Rheumatologists may treat joint ailment with medication or physical therapy. If surgery is necessary, the expertise of an orthopedic surgeon is crucial. The patient can also consult a sports medicine specialists. They specialize in the prevention, evaluation, and treatment of injuries related to sports and exercise.
Take a quick anatomy lesson on the glenohumeral joint! Here’s an informative video from Kenhub:
Anyone who regularly subjects their joints to stress runs the risk of acquiring joint effusion. Maintain joint health by keeping a healthy lifestyle to avoid joint injury. Listen to the body and consult a doctor when necessary.
Have you experienced joint effusion? How did you manage your ailment? Share your experience in the comments section below!
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