Request an Appointment

Types of Arthritis that Affect the Shoulder

man with shoulder painShoulder bones undergo wear and tear every day, and they’re usually able to perform a wide range of motion without any pain. When the protective cartilage that surrounds the bones breaks down, however, it can cause shoulder arthritis. The shoulder is the third most common joint – after the knee and hip – that’s affected by arthritis.

In this blog, orthopedic physicians Dr. Ather Mirza and Dr. Justin Mirza of Mirza Orthopedics explain the types of arthritis that can affect the shoulder.

What is shoulder arthritis?

Shoulder arthritis results from the wearing away of protective cartilage, which causes the bones in your shoulder to rub against each other. As a result, one or more of the joints becomes inflamed.

What causes shoulder arthritis?

Cartilage can be damaged because of infection, injury, wear and tear, or degeneration.

What are the symptoms of shoulder arthritis?

Symptoms can vary somewhat according to the type of arthritis you have but commonly include the following:

  • Pain at rest (including at night) or during activity. It can extend from the shoulder down the arm to the elbow.
  • Stiffness
  • Limited range of motion
  • Tenderness and warmth in your joint
  • Crackling, grinding, clicking, or catching as bones rub against each other
  • Muscle weakness

What are the different types of shoulder arthritis?

There are five major types:

  • Osteoarthritis – occurs when cartilage wears away over time, causing pain as the bones rub together. This type of arthritis usually affects people over 50 years of age and is usually more common in the acromioclavicular (AC) joint, where the collarbone meets the shoulder blade.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) – causes the lining (synovium) of the joints to swell, which results in pain and stiffness. It’s caused when the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues, resulting in pain and stiffness.
  • Post-traumatic arthritis – can occur after injuries such as fractures and dislocations, which cause the shoulder joint to become unstable
  • Avascular necrosis – occurs when blood doesn’t reach the humerus (the long bone in your upper arm), which causes cells and tissues in your shoulder to be destroyed. It can happen because of injury, taking high doses of steroids, or over-consumption of alcohol, and symptoms usually worsen over time.
  • Rotator cuff tear arthropathy – caused by an injury to the rotator cuff, which connects the shoulder blade to the top of your arm. You may experience muscle weakness and a great deal of pain.

What are the treatment options?

Conservative treatment options can often be effective in treating the symptoms of shoulder arthritis. These types of treatments may include:

  • Resting your shoulder or modifying your activities
  • Using moist heat
  • Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) – such as ibuprofen or naproxen – to reduce inflammation
  • Icing your shoulder
  • Undergoing physical therapy
  • Getting steroid injections
  • Getting platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy

If conservative treatments aren’t providing enough relief, surgery may be an option. Our surgeons can choose from several different types of surgery based on the type of arthritis you have, your symptoms, and your needs.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of shoulder arthritis, make an appointment today for a consultation with Mirza Orthopedics. We’ll recommend the most conservative treatment options that will help alleviate your pain and get you back to your regular activities.

Our Orthopedists and Doctors in Smithtown NY
American Association for Hand Surgery badge
American Society for Surgery of the Hand button
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons badge
Thank you very much! We will get back to you as soon as possible.
Thank you very much for your submission!