Shoulder Arthritis | Treatments & Surgery | Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia | MedStar Health

Our orthopedic surgeons have unique expertise in managing shoulder arthritis. Our shoulder specialists are fellowship-trained in shoulder disorders and focus exclusively on shoulder surgery and treatment. We specialize in the most advanced shoulder treatment options, including shoulder arthritis surgery, like total shoulder replacement and reverse shoulder arthroplasty. In fact, we perform more reverse shoulder replacement procedures than any other hospital in Washington, D.C.

No matter your treatment needs, our primary goals are to minimize your pain and help you regain strength in your shoulder and arm. We get started by spending time with you and your family, explaining your condition, and answering all of your questions. Then, we work together to customize a treatment plan that is effective and best fits your lifestyle.

What is shoulder arthritis?

Healthy bones and joints allow the shoulder to move easily in many directions, including forward, backward, around in a circle, and away from the body. Shoulder arthritis occurs when your cartilage—the smooth surface that lines your shoulder joint—begins to wear away. Because the cartilage protects your shoulder joint from bone-on-bone rubbing, losing this material can make moving your arm and shoulder very painful. In addition to pain, arthritis inflammation can cause swelling and joint damage. Types of shoulder arthritis include:

  • Osteoarthritis of the shoulder –The natural aging process can wear away the cartilage between the bones in your shoulder joints, causing inflammation and pain.
  • Post-traumatic arthritis of the shoulder –This form of osteoarthritis results from an injury or fracture to the shoulder.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis of the shoulder –This immune system dysfunction attacks and wears away the cartilage lining between the bones in your shoulder joint. The disease often affects multiple joints in your body.

What causes shoulder arthritis?

Shoulder arthritis can occur due to any of the following:

  • Natural wearing of the cartilage as you age
  • Immune system dysfunction that causes the body to attack the joints
  • Prior injury to the shoulder joint

What are the symptoms of shoulder arthritis?

If you experience any of the following symptoms of shoulder arthritis, you may benefit from a consultation with our Specialists:

  • Pain in the shoulder
  • Swelling
  • Redness or heat in the area
  • Trouble raising your arm
  • Clicking sound when you raise your arm

How is shoulder arthritis diagnosed?

Our orthopedic surgeons are experts at diagnosing the full range of shoulder arthritis problems. Our initial exam generally includes:

  • Medical history evaluation – This includes asking questions about when your pain began, whether it affects one or both shoulders, and when the pain feels most severe. Other questions may be about previous injuries, whether you have other medical problems, and if you take any medications.
  • Physical exam – The orthopedist will examine your shoulder and arm to evaluate your pain and sensitivity, strength, and range of motion.
  • Imaging tests – Your orthopedist may want to examine the bones and joints themselves using an X-ray

What is the best arthritis shoulder pain treatment?

Treatment for shoulder arthritis usually depends on what specific type of arthritis you have, and how severe it is. Non-surgical options may include:

  • Resting your arm
  • Avoiding painful activities
  • Pain or anti-inflammatory medications
  • Heat or ice
  • Steroid injections
  • Physical therapy

If conservative options do not improve your shoulder pain or if your symptoms get worse, we may suggest shoulder arthritis surgery. Our orthopedic surgeons are experienced in the most advanced and innovative surgical procedures for shoulder arthritis treatment, including: