Pain and limited range of motion are the most common ways to diagnosis arthritis.

Arthritis of the Shoulder

Joint inflammation

There are two joints in the shoulder that can be effected by arthritis – the first, called the acromioclavicular (AC) joint is where the collarbone meets the tip of the shoulder blade. The second is the glenohumeral joint and is where the head of the humerus fits into the scapula.


Osteoarthritis: wear-and-tear arthritis that destroys the smooth outer covering of the bone. Rheumatoid arthritis: a chronic, symmetrical disease that attacks multiple joints throughout the body.

  • Posttraumatic Arthritis: a form of osteoarthritis that forms after an injury
  • Rotator Cuff Tear Arthropathy: arthritis that develops after a long-standing rotator cuff tear.
  • Avascular Necrosis: a painful condition caused by lack of blood supply to the head of the humerus.

Pain and limited range of motion are the most common ways to diagnosis arthritis. After discussing symptoms, your SMGOA physicians will physically exam your area of concern and possibly order x-rays.

First response to arthritis is non surgical and includes rest or change in activities, physical therapy, non-steroid or anti-inflammatory drugs, cortisone injections, moist heat and ice rotations, as well as dietary supplements.

Through arthroscopic surgery, your SMGOA surgeon can clean out the inside of the joint. While the procedure can eliminate pain, it will not eliminate arthritis.

Arthritis of the Shoulder
(Left) An illustration of damaged cartilage in the glenohumeral joint. (Right) This x-ray of the shoulder shows osteoarthritis and decreased joint space (arrow).
Image courtesy of AAOS