Shoulder Surgery

Shoulder Arthritis Treatment in Seattle, WA

Shoulder Surgeon Seeing Patients from Seattle, Kirkland, Bellevue, and the Surrounding Area

What is Shoulder Arthritis?

The shoulder is one of the areas of the body most prone to natural wear and tear. Your humerus (upper arm,) scapula (shoulder blade) and clavicle (collarbone), are all connected by a network of tendons and ligament, and since the shoulder’s range of motion is almost 360 degree rotation, everything must work together flawlessly in order to maintain proper function.

Arthritis is defined as inflammation of one or more joints. Since the shoulder has several joints that work together, any inflammation can cause pain, stiffness and may limit range of motion. According to the CDC, around 53 million people in the United States suffer from arthritis, and many of those people suffer from shoulder inflammation.

In most cases, the symptoms of shoulder arthritis can be treated with shots, medication and therapy. However, in more severe cases, shoulder surgery may be necessary. This would require shoulder replacement surgery.

What are the Symptoms of Shoulder Arthritis?

There are two main symptoms of shoulder arthritis in patients living near Seattle and Kirkland:

  • Pain – The most common complaint from patients with shoulder arthritis is pain. Pain tends to get worse throughout the day as the shoulder is involved in activity and could get worse over time. In some cases, pain is elevated during the night time when trying to sleep.
  • Limited Range of Motion – If inflammation is severe enough, the pain can cause stiffness and limit the range of motion of the shoulder. Patients may notice grinding or clicking as the shoulder moves and their arms are extended outward or upward.

What Are the Types of Arthritis?shoulder arthritis.

There are several types of arthritis that can affect the shoulder. Each one has different causes and can present patients with a unique set of challenges.


This form of arthritis is caused by everyday wear and tear of the joints, and according to the Mayo Clinic, osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis worldwide. It is most typically diagnosed in patients who are over the age of 50. The most common symptoms felt are pain, tenderness, and stiffness.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis is considered a serious issue because it is caused by the immune system attacking the body’s own cells. When the immune system destroys cells, it can cause long-term damage to the tissue. In addition to joint pain and swelling, Rheumatoid arthritis can cause disability and loss of function in the affected area.

Post-Traumatic Arthritis

This type of arthritis is seen in patients who have suffered an injury in their past such as a dislocated shoulder, or a shoulder fracture from a fall. In conjunction with joint pain and swelling, post-traumatic arthritis can also cause fluid buildup around the joints.

Rotator Cuff Tear Arthropathy

If a patient’s rotator cuff has suffered a tear, then the tendon is no longer able to effectively hold the arm in the socket. The bones can rub together and cause damage which may lead to the development of arthritis. The combination of the rotator cuff tear and arthritis can lead to the patient being unable to lift their arm as well as they used to.

Avascular Necrosis

Sometimes, the blood supply to the humerus can become disrupted and cause parts of the bone to die. If this happens, this problem can lead to the deterioration of the shoulder joint and cause arthritis. Avascular necrosis can be caused by heavy alcohol consumption, steroid abuse, traumatic injury or sickle cell disease.

Treatment for Shoulder Arthritis

Depending on the severity, shoulder arthritis can be treated non-surgically. This usually consists of activity modification, anti-inflammatory medications, and steroid injections. However, more severe cases may require minimally invasive shoulder surgery and shoulder replacement. Learn more about shoulder replacement.

Schedule a Shoulder Arthritis Consultation

Seattle shoulder surgeon Samuel Koo, MD, MPH, has extensive experience helping patients with a variety of shoulder conditions, and performed over 375 shoulder surgeries in the last year alone. If you’re experiencing symptoms of shoulder arthritis in the Seattle area, Dr. Koo may be able to help you, too. Give our Kirkland office a call at (425) 823-4000 or request an appointment through our secure online form. Our office is just a short drive from Redmond, Bellevue, and Seattle.