Shoulder Arthritis: What Happens In Shoulder Arthritis And Tips To Manage The Condition

Shoulder arthritis is the condition where shoulder joints are damaged after developing arthritis.


Gandharv Gulati
Written by: Gandharv GulatiUpdated at: Sep 09, 2020 11:30 IST
Shoulder Arthritis: What Happens In Shoulder Arthritis And Tips To Manage The Condition

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Arthritis is a chronic condition that affects the joints located at different parts of the body. There are many types of arthritis and shoulder arthritis is one of them. It occurs when the cartilage inside the glenohumeral joint of the shoulder is damaged. Gradual wear and tear gradually develop into shoulder arthritis that leads to pain and discomfort.

What is shoulder arthritis and how it is caused?

  • Due to gradual wear and tear, the cartilage in the shoulder starts to damage. When it reaches to the extent that the deeper layers are also damaged, shoulder arthritis is caused. While this mostly occurs in the glenohumeral joint, the second joint namely AC joint or acromioclavicular joint can also develop shoulder arthritis and this is called AC shoulder arthritis.
  • In every joint of the body, there is a cartilage that acts as cushioning for the tender bones inside the joints. Cartilage is about 2 to 3mm thick which is nearly the same as cardboard. Any damage to the cartilage would affect the joints and bones. Regular wear and tear can cause damage to the cartilage.

Stages of shoulder arthritis

Arthritis is not a sudden thing but it develops gradually. Similarly, shoulder arthritis also occurs gradually in different stages. These are:

  • Stage 1: Softening of the cartilage
  • Stage 2: Cracks in the cartilage
  • Stage 3: Fibrillating cartilage or deteriorating cartilage
  • Stage 4: Damage to the cartilage exposing the joints and bones
  • Stage 5: Bones and shoulders rubbing each other causing further damage

This is a long process that may take weeks and months to occur. Sadly, many people fail to identify the signs to prevent the condition. After developing arthritis, it is nearly impossible to return to normal. Also, the degree of arthritis is different in every human being. If you feel pain in the joints, this could be due to increased tension in the cartilage that indicates wear and tear. The more pain, the increased risk of arthritis.

Also Read: Suffering From Knee Pain? Here Are A Few Tips To Manage Pain At Home During Lockdown

Types of Shoulder Arthritis

While shoulder arthritis is a type of arthritis, there are many subtypes of shoulder arthritis. These are differentiated on the basis of their origin and causes.


  • Shoulder Osteoarthritis of the Shoulder: This is often associated with ageing. It is highly common with the elderly as our bones weaken with age exposing the joints to wear and tear. Thus, it is also called degenerative joint disease.
  • Shoulder Rheumatoid Arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis is caused when immune cells attack healthy cells misunderstanding them to be hostile. This is an autoimmune disorder that causes damage to the lining of the shoulder joint.

Tips to manage shoulder arthritis

While treatment is not possible, you can manage the condition by considering a few tips.

  • Exercises: To keep the shoulder mobile and not damage further, doing range-of-motion exercises can help. If you are at the initial level, you can do these exercises to keep the shoulder mobile and prevent stiffness and joint pain.

  • Physical therapy: If you are losing motions, you can take physical therapies to control the situation. However, this should be done under medical supervision as it might deteriorate the condition.
  • Avoid things that stress your shoulder and cause pain.
  • Try ice packs or a cold therapy pad to alleviate pain but this is a temporary solution.

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