The 411 On Shoulder Osteoarthritis

Posted on: 7 April 2016

Osteoarthritis affects the protective cartilage of your joints, limiting mobility and causing intense pain. While it can affect multiple areas of your body, many individuals suffer with osteoarthritis of the shoulder. With this gradual wearing down of the cartilage, the joints of your shoulder will become stiff and painful to move. Also, the condition may cause painful spurs and growths to develop on the joints. Shoulder arthritis is most common in patients 50 years of age and older, but it can develop in patients of all ages. Using this guide, you will understand the causes, signs, and treatment options for your shoulder osteoarthritis.


Known as the "wear and tear" form of arthritis, osteoarthritis mostly stems from age. The two joints of the shoulder, the acromioclavicular and the glenohumeral, wear down just by completing normal tasks and movements. In addition, osteoarthritis of the shoulder may develop from an injury, such as a dislocated or fractured shoulder.


Most patients with the condition will first experience pain in the shoulder area. Unfortunately, this pain can occur while moving the shoulder or while resting. In many cases, shoulder osteoarthritis may cause a steady discomfort with periodic episodes of intense pain.

If you have this form of osteoarthritis, you will be unable to move your shoulder in a normal manner. This may be due to your level of discomfort, but also because the destroyed cartilage will cause stiffness in the joints.

Crepitation is also a common symptom of shoulder osteoarthritis. This crackling, popping, and crunching sound or feeling stems from the joints rubbing together due to the lack of protective cartilage.

Lastly, immobility from your osteoarthritis can lead to muscle weakness and atrophy. Due to this possibility, it is important to seek medical attention immediately to ensure you do not lose complete feeling and the ability to move your shoulder.

Your doctor will complete a full medical exam to check for visible swelling, redness, and abnormal growths around the joints. You may need to perform basic movements and exercises, as well. This will allow your doctor to see your range of motion.

Lab tests will also be necessary to diagnose osteoarthritis. X-rays and MRIs will offer detailed images of joint and cartilage damage. Testing for this condition may also require a joint aspiration, which removes fluid from between the shoulder joints.

Treating Shoulder Osteoarthritis

Pain management will be an imperative first step in treating your osteoarthritis of the shoulder. Anti-inflammatory medications may be taken to reduce the swelling, inflammation, and pain of the shoulder joints. Fortunately, massage therapy also offers a more natural relief of your shoulder pain.

Massaging the muscles, ligaments, and joints of the shoulder improve your blood circulation, which reduces inflammation and swelling. Massage therapy also releases endorphins through the body. These neurotransmitters are natural pain relievers, which instantly decrease discomfort while improving your mood.

A shoulder replacement surgery is also a possible option for treating severe osteoarthritis. Although effective for replacing worn joints of the shoulder, the surgery is an invasive procedure that comes with many risks. Talking with your doctor to determine if you are a good candidate for this surgery is smart.

Stem cell injections are a safer, non-invasive option to treat your osteoarthritis of the shoulder. Your doctor will remove Mesenchymal stem cells from your body tissue, fat, and bone marrow before purifying and injecting them into the damaged area of your shoulder. Working with your body's blood and tissue, the stem cell treatment for shoulders helps regenerate weakened, torn, or destroyed cartilage in and around your shoulders.

Shoulder osteoarthritis affects your physical and emotional well-being, but treating this painful condition is possible. Using this guide and the help of your doctor, you will be able to understand and treat the pain and loss of mobility associated with shoulder osteoarthritis.