Understanding Shoulder Arthritis Types and Causes

Millions of people are diagnosed with arthritis each year. Arthritis in the shoulder is much less common. It occurs when the cartilage in the shoulder wears out or deteriorates. It’s important to know that there isn’t just one type of shoulder arthritis or one cause either.

man suffering from shoulder arthritis in Seattle

Types of Shoulder Arthritis

Osteoarthritis of the Shoulder

This kind of arthritis results from normal wear-and-tear. All joints have a smooth layer of cartilage to prevent the bones from rubbing against each other. This form of arthritis usually happens as you age, since overtime that cartilage layer becomes worn down. This can cause pain and stiffness. Osteoarthritis of the shoulder tends to affect people above the age of 50.

Rheumatoid Arthritis of the Shoulder

Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease, meaning your immune system attacks your own tissue. Your shoulder joints have a lining to help lubricate them while moving. This lining is called synovium and is what your immune system attacks during rheumatoid arthritis. Since this is a chronic disease, you’ll tend to experience this form of shoulder arthritis in both shoulders. It can cause inflammation which leads to pain and especially stiffness in both shoulders. 

Rotator Cuff Tear Arthropathy

This can happen after a long period of having a rotator cuff tear, even if fixed. The damage the rotator cuff tear causes to the surrounding cartilage can cause shifting around of the humerus bone and socket. Due to the misplacement of the humerus, your bones can rub together causing extreme pain and the inability to lift the arm that’s being affected.

Treatment for Shoulder Arthritis

There is no real treatment for most shoulder arthritis conditions, but there are plenty of options to relieve symptoms.  Treatments for any of these types of arthritis and their symptoms can range from medication all the way to surgery, depending on the severity of the case. Sometimes, patients are referred to a physical therapist to help with their symptoms. 

If you’ve been experiencing the same shoulder pain for over 3 months, contact Dr. Samuel Koo at (425) 823-4000