Friday, June 2, 2023

What Are The Signs Of Arthritis In The Shoulder

Talk With Your Doctor

Shoulder Arthritis Symptoms and Treatment (Q& A)

If you have any ongoing symptoms of shoulder pain, it’s important to share them with your doctor so you can get the right diagnosis. Share with him or her as many details as you can about your symptoms, including when and how long they occur, what the pain feels like , and what you were doing when the pain started.

There are treatment options for both shoulder arthritis and bursitis, so pain relief may be as close as a visit with your doctor.

Other Possible Causes Of Shoulder Pain

Not all shoulder pain is due to arthritis, of course. Visit our sister site PainSpot to take a personalized quiz to see what else could be causing your shoulder pain.

A condition called frozen shoulder shares several symptoms with osteoarthritis, Dr. Rahmani says, including pain, stiffness, and limited range of motion. Frozen shoulder occurs when the tissue that surrounds your shoulder joint becomes thick and tight. But unlike OA, which is progressive, frozen shoulder resolves over time, usually within one to three years.

Bursitis can resemble rheumatoid arthritis because it causes redness and swelling. However, bursitis is not an autoimmune disease like RA rather, it develops when the bursae become inflamed. Bursitis can often be blamed on overuse or injury of a joint.

Other medical conditions that dont directly affect the shoulder can cause referred pain in the shoulders. Some examples include shingles, cervical nerve impingement, and blood clots in the lungs, says Dr. Rahmani.

In addition, any condition that affects the diaphragm, such as an injured spleen or gallbladder problems, can cause referred pain in the shoulders because they irritate the nerves that run from the diaphragm to the shoulders, he explains.

Doctors may suspect these indirect causes of shoulder pain depending on what they see in your physical exam.

If someone reports pain but has good range of motion, thats when you have to think outside the box, Dr. Rahmani says.

How Is Shoulder Arthritis Diagnosed

Your healthcare provider will perform a physical exam of your shoulder, including checking the range of motion and strength. Your provider will also ask about your medical history and current symptoms.

Your provider will order imaging tests, including:

  • X-rays: X-rays show the condition of your shoulder bones. They cant directly show cartilage, but your provider can see the amount of space between your shoulder bones. Being very close or touching means youve lost cartilage.
  • Computed tomography scan: This test provides more detail of the bones of your shoulder joint than X-rays and is frequently ordered for surgical planning
  • Magnetic resonance imaging : This test shows the surrounding soft tissues of your shoulder joint. Your provider may order it to look at the condition of the rotator cuff tendons.

Also Check: New Treatment For Knee Osteoarthritis 2020

Types Of Arthritis In The Shoulder

The most common types of shoulder arthritis include:

  • OsteoarthritisShoulder osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage in your shoulder slowly wears down, often because of the natural aging process. Its sometimes called wear-and-tear arthritis.
  • Inflammatory arthritisAutoimmune diseases cause your body to attack healthy tissues, leading to joint inflammation. Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most well-known types of inflammatory arthritis in the shoulder.
  • Post-traumatic arthritisThis type occurs after an injury, such as a fall or motor vehicle accident. The injury causes cartilage damage and breakdown.
  • Rotator cuff tear arthropathySome people develop arthritis after a long-lasting tear in the rotator cuff . A rotator cuff tear may cause your arm bone to rub against these tissues, leading to arthritis.
  • Avascular necrosisThis uncommon type occurs when you lack blood supply between your shoulder and upper arm. People with sickle cell disease, a history of alcohol use disorder, or prolonged steroid use may be more likely to develop this type of arthritis.

Causes Of Shoulder Arthritis

Shoulder Arthritis Info

Arthritis can affect the joints in different parts of your body. There are two joints that make up the shoulder, which are the acromioclavicular joint and the glenohumeral joint. The AC joint is where the clavicle meets the shoulder blade, and the latter is where the head of the humerus meets the scapula. Shoulder arthritis can occur in these joints when the cartilage between them degenerates and the bones rub against each other, causing inflammation and pain.

Arthritis of the shoulder causes pain in the back and top of the shoulder as well as stiffness and weakness. The pain is often felt deep in the joint and travels to the neck and the rest of the shoulder. Patients with shoulder arthritis can have trouble sleeping due to the bothersome symptoms.

The prospect of getting arthritis is worrying. Nobody likes to feel pain. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help prevent or manage arthritis early on.

Here are the most common causes of shoulder arthritis:

Recommended Reading: Pain In The Thumb And Wrist

Symptoms Of Shoulder Oa


  • If the glenohumeral shoulder joint is affected, the pain will be felt at the back of the shoulder and may feel like a deep ache.
  • If the AC joint is affected, pain will be focused on the top of the shoulder. This pain may radiate up the side of the neck.
  • Limited motion and stiffness: You may lose range of motion and feel stiffness that makes it difficult to do everyday tasks, such as lifting your arm to wash your hair or getting something down from a shelf.
  • Crepitus: Hearing and feeling grinding and clicking noises as you move your shoulder.

What Kinds Of Arthritis Affect The Shoulder

The most frequently occurring types of arthritis which affects the shoulder are , , rotator cuff tear arthropathy, and post-traumatic arthritis.

Osteoarthritis: Similar to the hip and knee, this is also called a wear and tear type of arthritis, and probably occurs as some combination of use, genetics, micro trauma, and increased forces across the joint. The cartilage loses its normal chemical makeup, becomes frayed and worn, and eventually disappears without this protective covering, the underlying bones grind against one another, causing pain.

Inflammatory arthritis: In conditions such as , multiple factors often having to do with the immune system, lead to inflammation of the joint and joint lining, ultimately wearing away the cartilage surfaces. Fortunately, the medical treatment of many types of inflammatory arthritis has made tremendous advances, and the need for surgical treatment has greatly diminished.

Rotator cuff tear arthropathy: This is the end stage of very large tears of the . A confluence of four muscles which stabilize and are the primary movers of the shoulder joint, which have been left untreated. While large tears of the rotator cuff tendon, are uncommon, an estimated 4% of patients with untreated rotator cuff tears develop cuff tear arthropathy. Treatment of shoulder arthritis caused by cuff tear arthropathy can be particularly difficult, since it results from damage to both soft tissue support of the joint as well as the joint surface.

Recommended Reading: Why Does My Knee Buckle

Inflammatory Arthritis Vs Osteoarthritis

Arthritis actually describes over 100 different conditions that affect joints and the surrounding tissue. They fall into two main categories: inflammatory arthritis and osteoarthritis .

Inflammatory arthritis is a systemic disease in which the mechanisms that normally protect your body attack your own joints and tissues instead. The most well-known example is rheumatoid arthritis , which tends to be symmetrical, meaning you’ll have problems in the same joints on both sides of your body, like both wrists or both knees.

The second type of arthritis and the most common form is osteoarthritis. A degenerative disorder, it’s caused by trauma or age-related wear and tear on your joints over time. OA is most likely to affect weight-bearing joints such as the knees, hip, lower spine or big toe, but it can also cause pain and stiffness in your thumb or finger joints.

Here are some early arthritis symptoms that should prompt you to see a medical provider.

1. Pain in a joint. Pain or aching in a joint that gradually becomes worse over time is a classic symptom of arthritis, says Lisa Cannada, M.D., an orthopedic trauma surgeon at Novant Health in Charlotte, North Carolina. The pain may be triggered by activity, or it may set in after activity or at the end of a long day.

AARP Membership $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal

How Shoulder Arthritis Is Diagnosed

Top 5 Signs Your Shoulder, Hip, or Knee Pain, Is NOT Arthritis

The first sign of shoulder arthritis is pain in the general area, although the type of pain and the timing may vary. For instance, some people may feel a deep kind of pain in their shoulder joint, while others may feel a radiating pain around the side of their neck.

Limited range of movement is another symptom of worsening shoulder arthritis.

If youve had an outstanding injury in your shoulder area or have been feeling stiffness or an ache that isnt going away, the first step is to talk with your doctor. They will most likely check the affected area for muscle weakness, tenderness, range of movement, and a grating sensation inside the joint when it is moved.

The next step will most likely consist of shoulder X-rays so your doctor or specialist can take a look at your bones and see if any changes have occurred.

Lastly, your doctor may inject a local anesthetic into the joint where the pain seems to be radiating. If the pain is temporarily relieved, a diagnosis of arthritis is likely.

Shoulder arthritis is treatable. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment for your specific condition. Depending on your diagnosis, symptoms, and disease progression, your doctor may recommend:

If your doctor recommends surgery for shoulder arthritis, there are a number of surgical interventions available. Depending on your condition, these treatments include:

Read Also: How To Wrap Elbow Bursitis

Symptoms Of Ra In The Shoulder

RA is an inflammatory disease that affects the joints of the body. People living with RA experience alternating periods of remission, during which the pain reduces, and flares, when the pain is intense.

Common areas of attack include joints in the hands, knees, and ankles. However, it can affect other tissues and organs in the body, including the heart, lungs, and eyes.

When RA affects the shoulders, the symptoms may include:

  • pain and stiffness in the shoulder
  • tenderness and swelling of the shoulder joints
  • bilateral joint pain
  • loss of appetite

The symptoms can be mild or severe, but it is best not to ignore them either way. Notifying a doctor of any early symptoms will help in treating and managing RA promptly.

What Are The Symptoms Of Osteoarthritis

If you have any of the following symptoms, its important to get your shoulder checked out. An early diagnosis of osteoarthritis can avoid the need for surgery.

  • Shoulder pain: Tenderness and pain deep at the back of your shoulder. It can get worse at night, making it difficult to sleep.
  • Stiffness or loss of motion: decreased range of motion, making day-to-day activities like washing and dressing difficult.
  • Catching: a feeling of friction as you move your shoulder. It is often associated with popping or crunching sound .
  • Weakness: if you avoid painful movements and lifting objects, it can lead to weakening of your muscles.

Also Check: Boxing Gloves With Best Wrist Support

When To Speak To A Health Professional

It is important to seek medical help in certain situations:

  • If you are in extreme levels of pain
  • If you have had a traumatic incident such as a fall, which results in you being unable to move your arm at all
  • If you have any pins and needles or numbness in your arm
  • If the skin over your shoulder is hot, red or swollen
  • If you feel feverish, unwell or have unusual levels of tiredness
  • If you have been experiencing unexplained weight loss or night-time sweating

Osteoarthritis In The Shoulder

Rheumatoid Arthritis of the Shoulder

When we see OA of the shoulders, its usually the result of past trauma to the shoulders, says Darush Rahmani, DO, FACP, FACR, a rheumatologist at Austin Regional Clinic in Texas. It can also be the result of years of wear and tear, so you might see it in someone who has done manual labor, for example.

You May Like: What Does Knee Bursitis Feel Like

Arthritis Of The Shoulder

After the hip and knee, the shoulder is the third most common joint affected by , perhaps because in most people, it is not a weightbearing joint, as are the large joints of the lower limbs. However, as in the hip and knee, the loss of cartilage that characterizes shoulder arthritis is frequently a source of severe pain, limited function, joint stiffness, and significant diminishment of quality of life. While there is no cure for arthritis, there are many treatments, both nonsurgical and surgical, that enable the symptoms to be well treated and for patients to maintain active lifestyles.

Arthritis has its word origin from the Greek word, “arthron”, meaning joint. “Itis” probably of Latin derivation, and refers to inflammation. While literally arthritis therefore means inflamed joint, it has come to refer to any condition of the joint in which there is damage to the smooth cartilage covering a moving surface of a joint , eventually leading to cartilage loss, in the end stage resulting in “bone on bone” of the joint surfaces, and pain.

Treatments For Shoulder Osteoarthritis

If osteoarthritis is found at an early stage, it is possible to treat the condition non-surgically.

You may be given a physiotherapy programme designed to improve the strength and flexibility in your shoulder. Targeted exercises and movements can help to relieve the pressure on the bones, reducing the chance of bone spurs and further degeneration of cartilage and bone surfaces.

The pain and inflammation of osteoarthritis can be relieved by injecting steroids or other anti inflammatory agents into your shoulder joint. Reducing the swelling and pain in tandem with physiotherapy can help you to build up the strength around your shoulder and slow the progression of osteoarthritis.

Simon Moyes also offers hyaluronic acid injections plus PRP and other cellular therapies. Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring lubricant in your joints, which often becomes thinner with osteoarthritis. The viscous liquid acts as a shock absorber and an anti inflammatory that has also been shown to modulate pain perception. Unlike steroids, it has no detrimental effects on tendons and no side effects. PRP

In more progressed cases of osteoarthritis, you may require surgery. This might involve trimming and smoothing damaged cartilage, removing bone spurs or smoothing bone surfaces to enable them to move more easily across each other. Surgery for glenohumeral osteoarthritis may also involve repairing soft tissue, tendon or ligament damage.

Read Also: Pain Under Knee Cap When Bending

Types Of Arthritis That Lead To Joint Deterioration:


This is the most common type of arthritis and usually results from age-related degeneration of the cartilage. People affected with osteoarthritis are most commonly over 50 years of age. As we age, the structure of the cartilage changes, and it loses its ability to withstand the stress of joint forces. This type of arthritis is progressive and usually worsens over time. As arthritis progresses, bone spurs develop and the joint becomes painful with a range of motion, lifting, and it can even progress to severe pain at rest. Night pain is also very common in arthritis of the shoulder.


This condition is very similar to osteoarthritis, but the onset is secondary to a traumatic event that initiates damage to the cartilage surface. This event can be a traumatic shoulder dislocation, a severe fall onto the shoulder, or a fracture. Patients affected by post-traumatic arthritis are typically much younger.


This type of arthritis is secondary to autoimmune disorders where their own immune systems attack and destroy the cartilage. Common forms of this disease include Rheumatoid Arthritis, Systemic Lupus Erythematosis, or Seronegative Arthritis. These patients can be of any age but are typically younger.

What Are The Early Signs Of Arthritis In The Shoulder

Shoulder Shrug Sign | Frozen Shoulder & Osteoarthritis

The shoulder is a complex joint and has the greatest range of motion out of all the joints. Shoulder arthritis commonly refers to the bigger ball-and-socket joint out of the two joints. Here, the ball refers to the humeral head and the socket refers to the glenoid cavity of the shoulder blade .

The second joint in the shoulder, the acromioclavicular or AC joint, can also develop arthritis known as AC joint arthritis.

Early signs and symptoms of arthritis in the shoulder include

  • Pain in the shoulder joint
  • The pain is worse while lifting heavy objects.
  • The pain can radiate to the arm and down to the elbow and wrist.
  • Sounds of grinding, clicking or crackling with the movement of the shoulder joint
  • As arthritis in the shoulder progresses, you may experience stiffness due to loss of range of motion in the joint. Simple activities, such as combing the hair or opening the buttons of a shirt, become difficult.

    Also Check: How To Wear Golfers Elbow Brace

    What Does Arthritis In The Shoulder Feel Like

    Living with shoulder arthritis can cause pain that keeps you from using your affected arm. Pain may concentrate on the top or side of your shoulder. Sometimes it extends all the way down your arm. The pain may worsen after you exercise or lift a heavy object. You may also have trouble sleeping on the side of your body affected by arthritis.

    Signs Of Ra In Your Shoulder

    As mentioned, there are plenty of things that could cause shoulder pain, so RA isnt always the culprit. However, if you have already been diagnosed with RA pain in other areas of your body, it is certainly a distinct possibility. Some of the most common symptoms of RA, according to WebMD, include:

    Swelling An RA joint is often fluid-filled. This can make the area surrounding it appear puffy and large. The fluid that fills the joint can also cause further damage to the bone and structure of the joint itself, leading to further pain down the road.

    Pain What causes the pain with RA? It is actually caused by the inflammation within the joint. It is tender to the touch. Plus, the swelling puts pressure on your nerves, causing pain.

    Redness and Warmth Does your shoulder feel warm, feverish or have a red tone to it? When a joint is being attacked by RA, there is often warmth and redness.

    Don’t Miss: Golfer’s Elbow Physical Therapy

    Latest news
    Related news