Patient Education

To help you understand and navigate through your orthopedic health decisions, we have created a patient education section. Please select from one of the categories below to learn more about your condition or procedure.
Arthritis of the Shoulder

Shoulder arthritis is a degenerative condition that involves the loss of cartilage in the shoulder joint, leading to pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion.

Common Symptoms

Common symptoms include:

  • Pain in the shoulder joint that worsens with activity
  • Stiffness and limited range of motion
  • Grinding, clicking or cracking sounds (crepitus) with movement
  • Night pain and difficulty sleeping

Cause & Anatomy

The main cause of shoulder arthritis is the wear and tear of cartilage over time due to aging (osteoarthritis). Other causes include inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, previous injuries or fractures, rotator cuff tears, and avascular necrosis

The shoulder has two main joints that can be affected by arthritis:

  • Glenohumeral joint: Where the upper arm bone (humerus) meets the shoulder blade (glenoid).
  • Acromioclavicular (AC) joint: Where the collarbone (clavicle) meets the shoulder blade (acromion).


Shoulder arthritis is diagnosed through a combination of:

  • Physical examination to check for pain, tenderness, range of motion, and crepitus
  • X-rays to assess cartilage loss, bone changes, and bone spurs
  • Sometimes MRI or CT scans for further evaluation


While aging is a major risk factor, preventive measures include maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding joint injuries, and treating conditions like rheumatoid arthritis early.


Non-surgical treatments include:

  • Rest and activity modification
  • Physical therapy and exercises
  • Oral anti-inflammatory medications
  • Steroid injections
  • Ice and heat application

If non-surgical treatments fail, surgical options like shoulder replacement may be considered.


Shoulder replacement surgery involves replacing the damaged joint surfaces with artificial components (prosthetics) to relieve pain and restore mobility.


After shoulder replacement surgery, rehabilitation is crucial for regaining strength and range of motion. It typically involves:

  • Immobilization for a short period
  • Gradual range-of-motion exercises
  • Strengthening exercises
  • Occupational therapy for daily activities

The rehabilitation process can take several months but is essential for optimal recovery.


Can shoulder arthritis be cured?
No, but symptoms can be managed through treatments.

Is shoulder arthritis hereditary?
While not directly inherited, some genetic factors may increase the risk.

Can shoulder arthritis be prevented?
While aging is a major risk factor, maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding injuries can help.

How long does a shoulder replacement last?
Most replacements last 10-20 years, after which revision surgery may be needed

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