Shoulder Arthritis

Shoulder arthritis, also known as glenohumeral arthritis, is a condition characterized by the inflammation and deterioration of the cartilage in the shoulder joint. The shoulder joint is a ball-and-socket joint formed by the head of the upper arm bone (humerus) and the shallow socket of the shoulder blade (glenoid). The smooth cartilage lining the joint allows for smooth and pain-free movement.

In shoulder arthritis, the cartilage wears away over time, leading to bone-on-bone contact, inflammation, and joint degeneration. This can result in pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion in the shoulder. There are different types of shoulder arthritis, including:


  1. Osteoarthritis: This is the most common form of arthritis and occurs due to the natural wear and tear of the joint over time. It typically affects older individuals and can lead to joint pain, stiffness, and loss of function.
  2. Cuff-tear arthritis: A specific type of shoulder arthritis that occurs when a severe rotator cuff tear leads to degenerative changes in the shoulder joint.
  3. Post-traumatic arthritis: This type of arthritis can develop after a shoulder injury or fracture. The trauma can damage the joint structures, leading to cartilage degeneration and subsequent arthritis.
normal shoulder joint

Normal Shoulder

In a normal shoulder X-ray, the shoulder joint has a smooth outline with a symmetrical outline of the joint.

shoulder arthritis

Shoulder Arthritis

In shoulder arthritis (arrow), the shoulder joint is narrow leading to joint stiffness and pain.

post traumatic shoulder arthritis

Post-traumatic arthritis

In post-traumatic arthritis, the shoulder joint becomes narrow because of either a fracture of either the humerus or glenoid (the socket; arrow).


The symptoms of shoulder arthritis can vary but commonly include:

  • Persistent shoulder pain, particularly during movement or weight-bearing activities.
  • Stiffness and limited range of motion, especially with overhead or rotational movements.
  • Weakness and difficulty performing daily activities or lifting objects.
  • Swelling and tenderness around the shoulder joint.
  • Grinding or popping sensations in the joint (crepitus).
  • Loss of shoulder joint function and decreased quality of life.


Treatment for shoulder arthritis depends on the severity of the condition and its impact on daily activities. Non-surgical treatments may include:

  • Pain management: Over-the-counter pain relievers or prescribed medications to manage pain and reduce inflammation.
  • Physical therapy: Exercises and stretches to improve shoulder strength, flexibility, and range of motion.
  • Corticosteroid injections: Injections of anti-inflammatory medications into the shoulder joint to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Shoulder Replacement: In more advanced cases, when conservative measures are ineffective, surgical options may be considered, such as shoulder joint replacement or joint fusion. These procedures aim to relieve pain and restore shoulder function.

Get Expert Help

Everyone responds differently to shoulder arthritis and your specic symptoms can vary. If you are experiencing shoulder pain, limited mobility, or other concerning symptoms, Dr. Arthur Turow can assess your shoulder, provide you with an accurate diagnosis and suggest appropriate treatment options specific for your individual needs.

Please use above information as a guide only. More detailed information specific to your condition and your recovery will be given in your consultation with Dr. Arthur Turow, who will also provide additional resources to supplement your discussion. For more information, please contact the rooms of Dr. Arthur Turow on (08) 8236 4179.