Shoulder Arthritis by Dr Niraj Vora

In India, millions of people are grappling with arthritis in some form. In common words, arthritis is inflammation of one or more of your joints. In an arthritis of the shoulder, inflammation causes pain and stiffness. Osteoarthritis, or “degenerative joint disease,” is the most common type of arthritis affecting the shoulder.  Other types of arthritis are rheumatoid (inflammatory) arthritis and arthritis that can occur after shoulder trauma.

Anatomy of the Shoulder:

Your shoulder is made up of three bones: your upper arm bone (humerus), your shoulder blade (scapula), and your collarbone (clavicle).  Arthritis affects the joints in the shoulder and it could affect any of the 2 joints- acromioclavicular and glenohumeral joint. Diagnosis is critical for the right treatment and the physician will need to determine which joint is affected and what type of arthritis you have.


Advancing age is the most common factor in patients over the age of 50. Younger people can develop shoulder osteoarthritis due to trauma or other injuries such as fractures or dislocations. Arthritis can be hereditary as well, which means it can run in families.


Shoulder pain is the most common and obvious symptoms and sign of the shoulder arthritis. Any mobility related activities often lead to severe pain and worsening of shoulder immobility. Arthritis of the G-H joint usually hurts mostly in the back of the shoulder, while A-C arthritis hurts mostly on “top” of the shoulder at the end of the collar bone. Symptoms are far few in between as to signal the advent of shoulder arthritis.


A physical examination and X-Rays are enough to point out the shoulder arthritis. Doctors seek to identify pain due to movement, sensitive to touch and weakness in physical examination. X-Rays are predominantly used to identify bone cysts, loss of joint space and bone spurs at the edge of the joint.

The initial treatment is comprised of rest, physical exercises and Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications. Icing and moist heat as well as other therapy modalities such as ultrasound are prescribed by doctors to combat the problem of shoulder pain. If the treatments don’t cut much success, one can move forward to surgery. For arthritis of the A-C joint, this would usually involve removal of the end of the clavicle.  For arthritis of the G-H joint, surgery usually involves a joint replacement operation where the arthritic surfaces of the ball and socket are replaced with metal and plastic. Dr. Niraj Vora is a leading expert on joints with multiple and successful patient treatment regarding arthritis.