Arthritis of the Shoulder

Arthritis of the shoulder can cause pain and stiffness that can make it difficult to reach up or lift your arm. Treatment for arthritis of the shoulder can help ease your symptoms and restore mobility so that you can maintain a healthier, more active lifestyle.

  • Shoulder Joints

  • Types

  • Symptoms

  • Treatment

Shoulder Joints

There are two joints in the shoulder that can be affected by arthritis:

  • Acromioclavicular (AC) joint: This joint connects the clavicle (collar bone) to the shoulder blade (scapula). Pain from arthritis in the AC joint may be focused on the top of the shoulder and may radiate to the side of the neck.
  • Glenohumeral joint: This joint connects the scapula to the humerus (upper arm bone). Pain from arthritis in the glenohumeral joint may feel like a deep ache in the side or back of the shoulder; pain can also worsen with weather changes.

Treatment will depend on the affected joint as well as what type of arthritis you have.

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes arthritis in the shoulder? 

Arthritis in the shoulder may be caused by wear and tear over time, autoimmune disorders, traumatic injuries, failing to effectively treat a rotator cuff tear, or genetics.

Can shoulder arthritis be cured?

There is no cure for arthritis, but treatment can help lessen your symptoms.

Can shoulder arthritis improve over time?

Unfortunately, arthritis will almost always progress or worsen once it begins. However, effective treatment can slow arthritis down considerably and help you live a full, enjoyable life.

What does shoulder surgery for arthritis involve?

Surgery for arthritis of the glenohumeral joint is known as shoulder replacement (arthroplasty). This may involve replacement of the head of the humerus only (hemiarthroplasty), replacement of the humeral head and the glenoid (total shoulder arthroscopy), or replacing the ball and socket instead of the humeral head and glenoid (reverse total shoulder arthroscopy). Surgery for arthritis of the AC joint is a usually resection arthroplasty. This may be performed arthroscopically or with open surgery and involves the removal of a small amount of bone, leaving an open space that will ultimately fill with scar tissue.

What is the best treatment for shoulder arthritis?

The best treatment for shoulder arthritis will depend on your individual situation. Usually, some combination of medications, injections, and physical therapy will be recommended. Surgery will usually not be considered until other treatments have failed.

What will recovery be like after shoulder surgery?

The recovery after shoulder surgery varies depending on the details of your procedure. Your orthopedic surgeon will provide you with more information before you undergo your procedure so that you can be prepared.