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Shoulder Arthritis – All You Need to Know

Shoulder Arthritis

There are two joints in the shoulder and arthritis usually occurs in the big ball and socket joint, namely glenohumeral joint. This joint connects two bones, glenoid and humerus. These two bones are covered by cartilage. When this cartilage is damaged, it results to shoulder arthritis. Shoulder arthritis can also develop to the acromioclavicular joint.

Development of Shoulder Arthritis

Shoulder arthritis starts developing when the cartilage that covers the bones of the shoulder starts to wear and tear. This cartilage is meant to cover the surface of the bones.

There are different stages in which this arthritis may develop.

  • The cartilage starts softening.
  • Cracks develop in its surface.
  • Deterioration starts
  • It wears away and starts showing the surface of the bones
  • It loses its smooth movement and that results in arthritis.

Types of Shoulder Arthritis

There are different types of shoulder arthritis, which are as follows:

Primary Osteoarthritis

This arthritis has another name, which is a degenerative joint disease in which aging is the factor that results in wear and tear. Other joints are also affected in this case, that is near to the shoulder.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

This arthritis is related to an autoimmune disorder. In this case, the immune system attacks the healthy cells of the body. This arthritis can develop on both shoulders at the same time.

Post-Traumatic Shoulder Arthritis

This type of arthritis occurs if the shoulder has been dislocated, fractured or injured severely due to any reason.

Rotator Cuff Tear Arthropathy

This type of arthritis takes place if the rotator cuff of the shoulder is tearing for a long span. There are four rotator cuff tendons and the ball portion is surrounded by these four cuff tendons. If these tendons are damaged, the humeral bone may get rubbed with other bones, which leads to the development of arthritis.

Avascular Necrosis

This condition refers to the interruption in blood supply. The humeral of the shoulder may lose blood supply in this case and that results in collapsing of the bone. This collapse results in arthritis.

Symptoms of Shoulder Arthritis

The symptoms of arthritis depend on the amount of cartilage. The symptoms of the cartilage are as follows.

Shoulder Joint Pain

This pain is a major sign of arthritis and can occur on any side of the shoulder. Some people face pain even if the arm is not in use. The pain can occur at any point of time irrespective of the fact whether the shoulder has become stiff or not.  The pain increases when someone lifts something with the affected arm where the shoulder is having the pain. If the pain gets severe it can go down to the elbow as well.

Joint Stiffness

Joint stiffness of shoulders can be a sign of arthritis. Movement of that arm becomes too painful and the patient may find issues in doing things with that affected arm.

Grinding, cracking, or clicking

If the cartilage covering the shoulder bones is irregular, this may be due to the development of arthritis. Pain may not occur in this case.

Diagnosis of Shoulder Arthritis

In order to diagnose arthritis, the physician has to do a physical examination. He will also check the medical history and ask several questions related to the pain. X-Ray or CT scan can be performed to check the damage of the cartilage.

Treatment of Arthritis

There are various ways in which the disease can be treated. These treatments are discussed here.


Physicians suggest a range of motion exercises, which helps in the movement of shoulder comfortably. The goal of these exercises is to prevent further damage to the cartilage. Loss of motion is gradual and people do not notice it. The pain grows due to the growth of stiffness in the shoulder.

Modifications in lifestyle

The person suffering from shoulder arthritis has made changes in his lifestyle. He should not do such things that may result in pain. Pain may occur due to lifting heavy things or playing such games in which shoulder is involved.

Pain control

Pain can be controlled with the help of ice one can put the pack of ice on the shoulder several times a day. If heat is preferred, then you can use a bag full of hot water and put it on your shoulder. The heat warms up the joint and gives relief to the pain.

The CK Birla Hospital strives to provide you the best treatment with utmost care. Connect with our team of expert orthopaedic doctors for more guidance and expert advice on shoulder pain. Book appointment today!

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