Categories: Bone & Joints

Degenerative Shoulder Arthritis

Degenerative Arthritis of the Shoulder, also known as Osteoarthritis, is a condition which occurs when the smooth outer covering of the bone (Articular Cartilage) degenerates or wears down.

Also referred as “Wear and Tear Arthritis”, this disorder is a result of decreased joint space, which causes pain when bones of the joint rub against each other. The disease mostly occurs in people over the age of 50, but younger people may also develop the deformity due to injury or trauma.


The precise cause of occurrence of Arthritis of the Shoulder is still unknown. However, the following factors enhance the risk of the disorder:

  • Injury, such as, Dislocated Shoulder
  • Trauma
  • Surgery
  • Infection

Signs and Symptoms

Pain is the most common symptom of Arthritis of the Shoulder. It may occur while moving the shoulder as well as after moving the shoulder. The patient may also suffer from a limited range of motion and may hear a grinding, clicking, or snapping sound while moving the shoulder. In advanced stages, sleeping might become difficult as the patient may experience night pain.


The subject matter expert for Arthritis of the Shoulder is an Orthopedic.


The specialist will conduct the following examinations to diagnose Arthritis of the Shoulder:

Medical History: The doctor will ask for information of symptoms and medical history.

Physical Examination: The doctor will carry out a physical examination of the Shoulder and will look for weakness, tenderness, loss of range of motion, signs of previous injuries, and any other sign of injury to muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

Tests:  The doctor may also order Imaging Tests, such as, X-Rays and MRI Scans, to check for narrowing of the joint space, changes in bone, and formation of Bone Spurs or Osteophytes.

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Treatment Modalities Available for Management of the Disorder

The treatment options available for Arthritis of the Shoulder are Non-Surgical and Surgical. The initial treatment of the disorder is Non-Surgical.


Doctors recommend the following options:

  1. Providing rest to the Shoulder Joint.
  2. Trying out alternative ways of performing daily life activities to avoid pain.
  3. Physical Therapy exercises as assigned by the therapist.
  4. Use of Non-steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs and Corticosteroid Injections to reduce inflammation and pain.
  5. Applying moist heat.
  6. Applying ice to the Shoulder for 20 minutes two-three times a day.
  7. Performing range-of-motion exercises to increase flexibility.
  8. Dietary Supplements

Surgical: If non-surgical options fail and pain causes disability, then the doctors may suggest surgery, such as:

  • Arthroscopy: This involves cleaning out of the inside of the joint by making small incisions.
  • Shoulder Joint Replacement or Arthroplasty: In this procedure, the surgeon removes the damaged parts of the shoulder, replacing it with artificial components, known as prosthesis. Replacement options include Hemiarthroplasty, Total Shoulder Arthroplasty, and Reverse Total Shoulder Arthroplasty.
  • Resection Arthroplasty: This is the most common surgery to treat Arthritis of the Acromioclavicular Joint, wherein the surgeon removes a small amount of bone from the end of collarbone, leaving a space which gradually fills by scar tissue.

Known Complications

Shoulder Arthritis often interferes with normal sleep, fitness, and recreational activities.  In some cases, the disorder may lead to substantial swelling around the joint. Potential complications after Shoulder Surgery may include Excessive Bleeding, Infection, Blood Clots, and damage to Nerves & Blood Vessels.


Shoulder Arthritis patients should undertake the following precautions:

  • Avoid Shoulder Injury as it may aggravate the condition.
  • Give rest to the Shoulder Joint to avoid provoking pain.
  • Avoid activities which involve extensive moving of Arms.

Dietary and Physical Activity Requirements

It is imperative for patients suffering from Shoulder Arthritis to provide ample rest to the Shoulder Joint and religiously perform stretching exercises to decrease the stiffness of the shoulder.

Prevention of the Disorder from Happening or Recurring

By avoiding Shoulder Injury and by maintaining flexibility of the shoulders with the help of gentle stretching exercises, one can prevent the risk of occurrence or recurrence of Shoulder Arthritis.

Support and Help given by the Caregiver

Shoulder Arthritis often forces patients to make changes in lifestyle to reduce pain and stress on the shoulder. It is essential that caregivers provide such patients with support, assistance, and companionship. Awareness and adequate knowledge about the disease helps in understanding the patient’s condition.

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