Shoulder Arthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of shoulder arthritis and generally affects patients over 50 years of age. The condition is also known as “wear and tear” arthritis because of the progressive wearing away of the cartilage of the shoulder joint. As the surface wears down, bone is exposed making the shoulder painful and mobility progressively more difficult. Shoulder arthritis is also common in those who have had a prior shoulder injury like a fracture or rotator cuff tear. There may also be a genetic predisposition to shoulder arthritis.

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

Symptoms of shoulder arthritis

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


Evaluation of a patient should include a physical examination and x-rays which can be used as a baseline for ongoing evaluation of the condition.

Nonsurgical Treatment

Initial treatment of arthritis of the shoulder may involve physical therapy and a combination of some of the following.

  • Rest or revise 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

Surgical Treatment

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

Total Shoulder Replacement