Can You Get Arthritis In The Shoulder?

The Basics

The most mobile joints in your body are found in your shoulders. Shoulder joints are subjected to a lot of wear and tear, and as a result, they can become brittle. Shoulder arthritis is a painful disease that affects the joints in the shoulders.

Arthritis affects the muscles, tendons, joints, and ligaments, among other things. Shoulder arthritis is characterized by joint pain and restricted range of motion. However, there are many types of shoulder arthritis. Shoulder arthritis can be divided into five types, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). Continue reading to learn about the signs of the five forms of shoulder arthritis.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a form of autoimmune arthritis that affects the shoulders (RA). If you have RA, you can experience pain in both shoulders at the same time. You would also have to deal with:

  • your joints are tender and wet
  • Rheumatoid nodules, which are bumps under your skin in your shoulders or arms, a stiff feeling in your shoulders, particularly in the morning
  • fever, exhaustion, or weight loss

The lining of your joints is affected by RA, and it can also cause joint swelling. Over time, it can cause erosion of the shoulder bones and deformity of the shoulder joints.


Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis caused by wear and tear (OA). The elbows, as well as other joints such as the knees, hands, and hips, may be affected. According to the AAOS, people over the age of 50 are more likely to experience OA.

Post-Traumatic Arthritis

If you are injured, you can develop a type of arthritis known as post-traumatic arthritis (PA). Shoulder injuries, such as shoulder fractures and dislocations, are common because of the shoulder joint’s instability. This disorder can also be caused by sports injuries and other incidents.

Shoulder PA may result in a buildup of fluid in the joint, as well as pain and swelling.

Avascular Necrosis

By killing the joint tissues in your shoulder, a disorder known as avascular necrosis (AVN) can cause shoulder arthritis. It occurs when blood is unable to penetrate the humerus bone (the long bone of the upper arm). This can result in the death of cells in your shoulder bone.

Joint dislocations and bone fractures may cause this. It may also be caused by high-dose steroid use and excessive alcohol consumption.

AVN is a chronic condition, which means that it gets worse over time. It may progress from an asymptomatic condition to moderate pain, and then to extreme pain.

Rotator Cuff Tear Arthropathy

The rotator cuff is a series of tendons and muscles in your shoulder that links the shoulder blade to the top of your arm. Rotator cuff injuries are common, and they can lead to rotator cuff tear arthropathy, a type of shoulder arthritis.

This disorder is usually caused by a tear in the rotator cuff tendons. When the bones in your shoulder are weakened, arthritis develops. Intense pain and muscle fatigue are common symptoms, making overhead lifting difficult.

Shoulder Arthritis Treatment

Range-of-Motion Exercises

Medical (nonoperative) care is the first line of defense against shoulder arthritis. To keep the shoulder mobile, many people begin with range-of-motion exercises. The aim is to keep your range of motion from weakening if it isn’t already compromised. Arthritis of the shoulder joint causes progressive loss of motion that can be difficult to detect. The pain and ability to be active can both worsen as the joint stiffens. If you have a lack of motion or not, stretching for two to three minutes every day is recommended.

If you’re losing range of motion, physical therapy for shoulder arthritis is usually unnecessary. Strengthening the shoulder when you have arthritis is typically not a good idea because it can aggravate the pain. Exercises that do not bother the elbow, on the other hand, are completely safe to do.

Lifestyle Modifications

The second medical procedure is to stop, as far as possible, the things that cause pain in the shoulder. Anything that causes pain should be avoided in general, particularly if it interferes with your daily life. If your shoulder pain lasts for several days and keeps you awake at night, you may want to reconsider how important that activity is to you. If you experience discomfort when playing golf, for example, you will need to reduce your playing time to once a week rather than regular.

Pain Control

The third medical procedure is to try to keep the pain under control. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways:

  • Ice is your ally. Ice packs are effective for pain relief and can be used once or several times a day, depending on the situation. You can use an ice bag or a cold therapy pad that can be frozen and used again. The ice pack should be applied to the front of the shoulder, over the top, and behind the shoulder. It’s good for 20-30 minutes of use at a time. If the pain is keeping you awake at night, try icing the shoulder before going to bed.
  • Heat, according to some people, is a better cure for shoulder arthritis pain. Warming up the joint with heat before stretching is common, but you can use whatever method provides the most relief.
  • Medication can also be used to manage discomfort, but each has its own set of advantages and drawbacks. To make sure you don’t have any excuses to delay those drugs, talk to your primary care physician or surgeon about them.

Injections for Shoulder Arthritis

There are currently two forms of injections available to treat shoulder arthritis pain. Cortisone shots are the first kind. Cortisone is usually combined with a numbing agent, which offers immediate pain relief while also allowing the doctor to determine whether the injection is in the correct location. The joint may be sore after the numbing medication wears off before the cortisone kicks in. After the shot, the shoulder should be iced for at least a day.

While cortisone injections do not harm the shoulder, most surgeons limit them to a few per year in most cases of arthritis. If you have a complete shoulder replacement soon after getting a cortisone shot, you can increase your risk of infection. If you’re thinking about having surgery, you should stop cortisone shots for a few months beforehand.

Are You Looking for Shoulder Pain Relief? 

Pace Physical Therapy in San Jose, California specializes in non-surgical shoulder pain relief and recovery therapies.  We pride ourselves on offering the best possible physical therapy available and going above and beyond for our patients. Physical therapy, without the need for harmful drugs or unnecessary surgery, is a safe, simple and convenient way to find relief from shoulder pain. A variety of problems resulting in shoulder pain have been treated by our physical therapists, with patients experiencing progress and relief after just a few short sessions, and even fewer! We will develop a specialized mix of physical therapy approaches to treat and alleviate your pain once we have identified the source of your shoulder pain. Gentle manual therapy helps to restore natural joint mobility, relieve constraints on soft tissue, and facilitate circulation while restoring strength and the proper sequence of muscle activation around the shoulder joint through precise therapeutic exercises. Finally, we teach you strategies to strengthen your power and to stop the recurrence of future shoulder problems. Don’t let your pain in your shoulder hinder your physical skills any longer! Our physical therapy practice in San Jose, CA, will give you the support you need to once again start living your regular life. To schedule your appointment and get started on your journey towards pain relief, contact Pace Physical Therapy today. Contact us today to schedule your appointment!