Shoulder Arthritis

Healthy bones and joints allow the shoulder to move easily in many directions, including forwards, backwards, around in a circle, and away from the body.

Arthritis, which is loss of the normal cartilage, or smooth surfaces that line your shoulder joint, makes moving your shoulder and arm painful. In addition to pain, arthritis inflammation can cause swelling and joint damage. Types of shoulder arthritis include:

  • Osteoarthritis: The natural aging process can wear away at the cartilage between the bones at your shoulder joints, causing inflammation and pain.
    • Post-traumatic arthritis: This form of osteoarthritis results from an injury or fracture to the shoulder.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: 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

Shoulder arthritis symptoms generally include:

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

Shoulder Arthritis Care at MedStar Georgetown

The orthopedic surgeons at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital have unique expertise in managing shoulder arthritis. Everyone on our team is fellowship trained in shoulder surgery and focuses exclusively on shoulder surgery and treatment. We specialize in the most advanced shoulder treatment options, including 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 what 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 feels most appropriate for your lifestyle.

Shoulder Arthritis Diagnosis

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

  • Taking your medical history – 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.

Shoulder Arthritis Treatment

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

  • Resting your arm and avoiding painful activities
  • Over-the-counter or prescription anti-inflammatory medications
  • Applying heat or ice to the shoulder
  • Steroid injections
  • Physical therapy, including exercises designed to restore strength and range of motion in your arm and shoulder
  • Surgery: the orthopaedic surgeons at MedStar are experienced in the most advanced and innovative surgical procedures for shoulder arthritis treatment. Learn more about total shoulder replacement surgery and reverse total shoulder replacement surgery.

Make an Appointment

For more information or to schedule an appointment with a shoulder specialist, call our scheduling line. 

Phone: 202-295-0549

Shoulder Specialist