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Osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis, is caused primarily by age-related wear-and-tear that involves the deterioration of the smooth outer covering of bone, known as cartilage.
Shoulder osteoarthritis can occur when cartilage in the shoulder joint wears away, leaving less protection for the bones. When bones rub against one another, this can cause damage and result in pain around the shoulder joint.
Due to natural wear and tear that can take place within the shoulder joint with age, shoulder osteoarthritis commonly affects people over the age of 50 years old. Osteoarthritis of the shoulder affects 30 percent of people over the age of 60.
While shoulders are less susceptible to wear-and-tear compared to other weight-bearing joints, longer lifespans and an increase in sports participation have contributed to rising numbers of shoulder problems earlier in life.
Shoulder osteoarthritis is caused by a combination of biological and behavioral factors that include:
The following risks factors may predispose certain individuals to shoulder osteoarthritis.
The following are common symptoms of shoulder osteoarthritis symptoms.
The diagnosis of shoulder osteoarthritis begins with a physical examination and x-rays. During the physical exam, your physician will examine your shoulder for swelling, range of motion, muscle strength, and tenderness. The exam also includes questions about personal and family medical history.
X-rays are used to look for a narrowing joint space and damage related to the bones in the shoulder joint, as well as for the formation of bone spurs, which indicate arthritis. An MRI may also be needed to gauge the condition of the rotator cuff. Other diagnostic tests may be used to rule out causes of joint pain. Blood tests and analysis of joint fluid can rule out rheumatoid arthritis or infection.
Shoulder osteoarthritis is highly treatable. Depending on the severity of the diagnosis, non-surgical or surgical treatment options may be recommended.
The following non-surgical interventions can help preserve the health of your shoulder.
If non-surgical treatments don’t relieve symptoms, the following surgical options may be recommended.
Our world-renowned Brigham and Women’s Hospital Orthopaedic & Arthritis Center team is dedicated to providing the most advanced care for all bone and joint conditions to reduce pain, increase mobility and improve quality of life for our patients.
Our specialists in orthopaedic surgery, physiatry, rheumatology and rehabilitation, work together with dedicated nurses, physician assistants and other professionals, to provide state-of-the-art evaluation and treatment for thousands of patients each year. When it’s time to consider shoulder replacement surgery, our expert team will work with you to determine the best surgical approach for you.
To schedule an appointment with one of our bone and joint specialists, please call 1-800-294-9999 or fill out an online appointment request form.
If you would like to refer a patient with shoulder osteoarthritis, please call 1-800-MD-TO-BWH (1-800-638-6294) or see our list of referral options.
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