What is Shoulder Arthritis?

Shoulder arthritis is one of the most common things I see in clinic. What shoulder arthritis is, is where the cartilage in the joint starts to wear down, both on the ball and the socket side. This can be very painful. It can cause a lot of stiffness of the shoulder. And one of the most common complaints I see is that it keeps patients awake at night and they can’t sleep.

Typically, the good news is, compared to hip and knee arthritis, shoulder arthritis sometimes can be very livable with just some slight activity modifications because we don’t walk on our shoulders. We also can do other things like corticosteroid injections, viscosupplementation, which is basically like a lubricant injection for the joint.

And when those things fail, we typically talk about shoulder replacement. And depending on what you may have heard in the past, shoulder replacements have actually come a long way and they’ve kind of caught up to hip and knee replacements. I have a lot of patients who get shoulder replacements and still are able to play golf, pickleball, tennis, still go to the gym and exercise.

We’re seeing dramatically improved outcomes in shoulder replacements. But, again, a majority of patients don’t need surgery for shoulder arthritis.


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