Shoulder Arthritis

Shoulder arthritis refers to damage to the cartilage in the shoulder joints. It occurs when the cartilage starts wearing down on the ball and socket of the shoulder joint, causing pain.

There are various treatment options for arthritis in the shoulder, such as medication, lifestyle changes (such as daily activities or exercise) or physiotherapy. However, if your condition worsens, surgery might be recommended.

Causes  |  Symptoms  |  Treatment Options

What Causes a Shoulder Arthritis?

Shoulder arthritis is the result of the general wear and tear of the cartilage present in your shoulder joint. The cartilage covers the surface of the bones in your joints and allows the bones to glide smoothly over each other when the joints move. As the cartilage begins to break down, the exposed bone may rub against each other and cause you to feel pain.

The cartilage tends to break down when faced with stress. Therefore, more painful and stressful activities are likely to break down the cartilage more.

What are the Symptoms of a Shoulder Arthritis?

Since the breakdown and loss of cartilage differs in patients, the symptoms also vary. However, patients who suffer from shoulder arthritis generally complain of longstanding pain and stiffness in the joint, and weakness in the arm.

If you are suffering from this condition, you may experience these symptoms:

  • Pain in the shoulder joint
  • A weakness of the shoulder
  • Swelling or tenderness at the joint
  • A feeling of grinding within the joint
  • Pain that has lasted months/years

Shoulder Arthritis Treatment

Our doctors will typically recommend non-surgical treatment options if you suffer from shoulder arthritis. However, if non-surgical options show little to no signs of improvement, surgery may be required to improve your condition.


As with many of the other shoulder conditions, non-surgical treatment often involves range-of-motion exercises to strengthen the shoulder, steroid injections to reduce inflammation, and medication to ease the pain.

However, with the treatment of shoulder arthritis, you may also be told to use ice or heat to alleviate the pain. Speak to our doctors for more information about using cold or hot packs to ease shoulder arthritis pain.


In the case that non-surgical treatment options are unable to treat shoulder arthritis effectively, surgery may be recommended. Depending on how far along your shoulder arthritis is, our doctors may either recommend shoulder debridement surgery or a shoulder replacement surgery.

Shoulder debridement surgery is usually recommended for less advanced stages of shoulder arthritis, while a shoulder replacement may be needed in more severe cases.