Shoulder diagramOsteoarthritis is the most common type of shoulder arthritis. It typically affects patients over 50 years of age. Also known as “wear and tear” arthritis, it is the progressive wearing away of the cartilage of the shoulder joint. As the surface wears down, exposed bones in the shoulder joint cause significant pain. Shoulder mobility becomes increasingly more difficult. Additionally, an arthritic shoulder is also common in those who have had a prior shoulder injury like a fracture or rotator cuff tear. There may be a genetic predisposition to shoulder arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis can also affect the shoulder joints and can affect people of any age. Further, this is a systemic condition that causes inflammation in the joints that can be damaging to the cartilage and bone.


  • Pain with activity
  • Loss of mobility
  • Pain and Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Grinding or catching feeling


Moreover, your orthopedist will evaluate your symptoms and range of motion with a physical examination. Typically, he or she will order X-rays to use as a baseline for ongoing evaluation of the condition.


Initial treatment of arthritis of the shoulder usually involves physical therapy and a combination of some of the following.

  • Rest or adaptation of activities that cause pain
  • Moist heat
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications to reduce inflammation
  • Ice for 20 to 30 minutes, two or three times a day for pain and inflammation
  • Steroidal Injection into the joint to reduce inflammation


If nonsurgical treatment does not reduce pain, there are surgical options.

Total Shoulder Replacement

You can watch the video of Dr. Miller below. He discusses Reverse Shoulder Replacement as an option for severe shoulder arthritis.