Shoulder arthritis results from damage to the cartilage inside the shoulder joint. It usually happens to older adults, but can happen to younger people as a result of injury. Most commonly, it develops with gradual wear and tear of the cartilage over time. It tends to develop in stages.

First, the cartilage gets soft, then it develops cracks in the surface before deteriorating and flaking. Then, it wears completely away to expose the bone. Now, it doesn’t have a smooth, gliding surface for ease of movement, and pain sets in. But cartilage doesn’t wear away all in the same manner or at the same rate of speed. Often, this leads to pitting with an irregular surface.

Who’s at Risk?

People over the age of 50 are more likely to get osteoarthritis and shoulder arthritis. As we said before, it can happen to younger people, but usually as a result of a sudden injury or trauma (think: fractured or dislocated shoulder). This type of arthritis is called posttraumatic arthritis. Also, if you have a family history of osteoarthritis, you could be at an increased risk for shoulder arthritis.


Pain is the main symptom, especially while moving the shoulder and right after moving the shoulder. But you can experience shoulder pain even when sleeping. The next symptom is limited range of motion, followed by a clicking or creaking noise when you move the shoulder.


There are many treatments for shoulder arthritis. Your doctor will likely recommend treatments that don’t involve surgery at first, to see if there is any success. Those treatments include:

  • Resting. To properly rest the shoulder joint, you will have to make changes to the way you move the arm while going about your daily life. You may opt for sweaters that zip up the front rather than pullovers, for instance.
  • Taking OTC nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These include aspirin or ibuprofen and they help with inflammation.
  • Engaging in physical therapy as directed by a doctor.
  • Performing range-of-motion exercises to increase flexibility.
  • Applying moist heat or ice to the shoulder a few times a day. 
  • Taking dietary supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin.

If these lifestyle treatments don’t work, non-invasive treatments like platelet rich plasma therapy (PRP), specifically for rotator cuff injuries, or corticosteroid injections can be a successfully solution.

Surgery is a last resort, such as total shoulder arthroplasty (shoulder joint replacement), hemiarthroplasty (replacement of the head of the upper arm bone), or resection arthroplasty (removal of a small piece at the end of the collarbone).


Contact Summit Spine and Joint Centers

If you suffer from shoulder arthritis, there is a better way to cope. Call us today at 770-962-3642 and make an appointment to visit one our 23 pain centers including our featured new location for Pain Management in Athens, GA.  We utilize state-of-the-art techniques to restore function and improve your overall quality of life.