Alexander E Weber, MD
Orthopaedic surgeon & sports Medicine specialist

Living with Shoulder Arthritis: Understanding the Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Sep 11, 2023
Shoulder arthritis is a condition that affects millions of people worldwide, causing pain and limiting mobility in one of the body's most mobile joints. We'll explore the causes, symptoms, and available treatment options for shoulder arthritis.

Causes of Shoulder Arthritis:

Shoulder arthritis primarily occurs due to the gradual wear and tear of the shoulder joint. Common causes include:

  1. Osteoarthritis: This is the most common form of shoulder arthritis and results from the degeneration of the joint's cartilage over time. 
  2. Rheumatoid Arthritis: An autoimmune condition where the body's immune system attacks the synovium (lining) of the joint, causing inflammation and cartilage damage.
  3. Post-Traumatic Arthritis: Occurs after a severe shoulder injury, such as a fracture or dislocation, which can lead to joint damage.


The symptoms of shoulder arthritis can vary in intensity and may include:

  • Pain: Persistent pain in the shoulder that worsens with movement. 
  • Stiffness: Difficulty in moving the shoulder, particularly in the morning or after periods of inactivity.
  • Loss of Range of Motion: Reduced ability to raise or rotate the arm. 
  • Grinding Sensation: A sensation of grinding or clicking within the joint.

Treatment Options:

  1. Conservative Management: In the early stages of shoulder arthritis, conservative approaches can help manage symptoms. These include physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and lifestyle modifications.
  2. Corticosteroid Injections: In some cases, corticosteroid injections can provide temporary relief by reducing inflammation and pain. 
  3. Viscosupplementation: Hyaluronic acid injections may be used to lubricate the joint and alleviate pain.
  4. Surgery: When conservative measures fail to provide relief, surgical options may be considered, including:
    • Arthroscopy: A minimally invasive procedure to clean and remove damaged tissue.
    • Total Shoulder Replacement: Replacing the damaged joint with an artificial implant.

Preventive Measures:

While it's not always possible to prevent shoulder arthritis, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk:

  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: Excess weight places added stress on the shoulder joint.
  • Regular Exercise: Incorporate strength and flexibility exercises into your routine to support joint health.
  • Proper Posture: Be mindful of your posture to reduce unnecessary strain on the shoulders.
  • Protect Your Joints: Wear appropriate protective gear during sports or activities that could pose a risk of injury.

In conclusion, shoulder arthritis can be a painful and limiting condition, but there are various treatment options available to manage symptoms and improve the quality of life. If you suspect you have shoulder arthritis, consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and a tailored treatment plan.

Dr. Weber and his team treat over 200 Los Angeles athletes and weekend warriors with shoulder arthritis each year. We provide personalized treatment for all shoulder injuries from professional athletes to high school recreational players to overuse or wear and tear over the years. If you are a patient with a shoulder injury or arthritis in Los Angeles, please reach out. We can see you within 24 hours.