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Shoulder Arthritis Specialist

Orthopedic Specialists -  - Orthopedic Surgeon

Orthopedic Specialists

Orthopedic Surgeons located in Palm Harbor, FL

Shoulder Arthritis Q and A

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What is arthritis of the shoulder?

Arthritis is a condition that that creates inflammation of the joints. When it affects the shoulders, it causes pain and stiffness. While it cannot be cured, symptoms can be managed and many patients can remain active.

Are there different types of shoulder arthritis?

Arthritis can affect both shoulder joints: the acromioclavicular (AC) joint, where the collarbone (clavicle) meets the acromion; and the glenohumeral joint, where the upper arm bone (humerus) meets the shoulder blade (scapula).  

The main types of shoulder arthritis include:


This common form of shoulder arthritis wears away the cartilage surrounding the bones. The protective space between the bones diminishes, causing them to rub against each other. While it is most prevalent in people over 50, osteoarthritis of the shoulder can also occur after an injury, a condition known as posttraumatic osteoarthritis. 


RA is an autoimmune disease that causes antibodies to attack the joints.  It manifests in swelling of the lining (synovium) that surrounds the shoulder joints and allows them to move freely.  Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) of the shoulder causes pain and stiffness, usually on both sides. It can attack either shoulder joint.


Arthritis can develop after an injury to the rotator cuff. Untreated rotator cuff tears can alter the alignment of the shoulder joint and lead to the development of arthritis over a period of years. 


AVN is a rare condition. It involves a gradual destruction of a shoulder joint through diminished blood supply to the top of the upper arm bone (humerus). It can be caused by diseases like sickle cell anemia; chronic, heavy alcohol use; long-term steroid use; or it can have no discernable cause. The lack of blood may eventually cause bone cells to die and the joint to collapse, leading to painful arthritis and severely limited function.  

What are common shoulder arthritis symptoms?

Signs of shoulder arthritis vary with cause, severity, and the joint that is affected. Generally, however, the hallmarks are progressive pain, stiffness, and decreased range of motion. In some cases you might hear a grinding or snapping sound when you move your shoulder. A thorough evaluation at our office will help us develop a treatment plan for you.

How is shoulder arthritis treated?

Our doctor will first discuss your medical history and symptoms. He or she will check range of motion, sore areas and arm strength, and make a diagnosis based on a thorough examination.

Nonsurgical treatment is almost always the first approach. Our doctor may recommend a combination of:


  • Modifying movement or activity
  • Rest of the affected shoulder
  • Physical therapy or exercises
  • Moist heat or ice applications
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), like aspirin or ibuprofen
  • Corticosteroid injections


When should I consider surgery for shoulder arthritis? 

If your condition doesn’t respond to these treatments, or the damage is too extensive, surgery could be the best option. The two most common types of shoulder surgery are:


  • Arthroscopy – While arthritis cannot be fully treated with this minimally invasive procedure, a shoulder arthroscopy could treat other conditions or pain generators around the shoulder, and help minimize pain for those seeking to avoid shoulder replacement surgery.   


  • Shoulder joint replacement (arthroplasty) – This procedure replaces either the entire joint or damaged sections with prosthetics. 


Fortunately, shoulder procedures are a particular area of expertise for the board-certified, fellowship-trained surgeons at Orthopedic Specialists. If you have pain in your shoulder and restricted movement, call or schedule a consultation online today.

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