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This Is How Arthritis Affects Your Shoulders

This Is How Arthritis Affects Your Shoulders

Why do millions of Americans struggle with shoulder arthritis? Short answer: Your shoulders are particularly vulnerable to arthritis because of all the work they do during your day. For instance, athletes often develop shoulder injuries related to repetitive use, resulting in arthritis. 

But while some sports demand more of your shoulder joints than others (e.g., tennis vs. running), many folks who never pick up a ball, bat, or golf club develop shoulder arthritis.

Age is definitely a factor for osteoarthritis, the most common type, and while you can delay aging these days, you can’t stop time. So, is it possible to avoid shoulder arthritis?

Read what well-known orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist Dr. Sumit Dewanjee at FXRX in Tempe and Phoenix, Arizona, says about how arthritis affects your shoulders and how he can help.

Understanding shoulder arthritis

Shoulder arthritis refers to inflammation and degeneration of the shoulder joint, leading to pain, restricted range of motion, and functional impairment. The most common types of arthritis that affect the shoulder are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and post-traumatic arthritis.

What causes shoulder arthritis?

The causes and risk factors for arthritis vary by type:


Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative condition that’s due to the wear-and-tear of the shoulder joint over time. Factors such as aging, repetitive stress on the joint, and previous injuries can contribute to the development of osteoarthritis.

Sports that require frequent shoulder use, such as pitching or swinging a golf club, can increase wear-and-tear on your shoulder joints. But job and home activities such as painting, construction, and even vacuuming require significant involvement from your shoulders.

These activities can all play a role in shoulder joint degeneration, especially those that require repetitive shoulder movement.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder that causes the body's immune system to attack the synovial lining of your joints, including the shoulder. The resulting inflammation leads to bone erosion and joint deformity over time.

Genetic factors and environmental triggers, including certain viral or bacterial infections, are believed to play a role in its onset.

Post-traumatic arthritis

This type of arthritis occurs after a shoulder injury, such as a fracture or dislocation. Trauma can damage joint surfaces, leading to accelerated joint degeneration.

What are the symptoms of shoulder arthritis?

Arthritis symptoms can vary according to type and severity but commonly include:


Persistent shoulder pain, ranging from a dull ache to sharp discomfort, is a hallmark symptom of shoulder arthritis. The pain may worsen with movement or specific activities, such as swinging a golf club, brushing your hair, or simply reaching to turn off a light.


Joint stiffness can significantly restrict shoulder movement, making lifting or rotating the affected arm difficult. This can make it challenging to perform even simple tasks like turning a doorknob or hanging clothes in the closet.

Swelling and inflammation

Inflammation of the joint can cause swelling, tenderness, and warmth around the shoulder area. Rheumatoid arthritis can also cause an inflammatory response in other organs, including the heart, lungs, and eyes, which may affect your overall health.


Muscle weakness in the shoulder and arm may occur due to pain and restricted movement, further reducing your ability to lift or rotate the arm.

How do you treat shoulder arthritis?

To accurately diagnose and treat shoulder arthritis, Dr. Dewanjee conducts a comprehensive evaluation that may include the following:

Treatment options for shoulder arthritis depend on the severity of joint damage and your individual needs. 

Your strategy may include:

Should conservative measures fail to relieve your symptoms, Dr. Dewanjee may recommend a surgical fix. 

Dr. Dewanjee is known as one of the best shoulder surgeons in Phoenix, specializing in minimally invasive procedures, including shoulder arthroscopyrotator cuff repair, and partial or total shoulder replacement.

You can’t always avoid shoulder arthritis, but the sooner you seek treatment for shoulder discomfort or stiffness, the better for preventing worsening damage.

Schedule an evaluation with Dr. Dewanjee at FXRX today by calling our office or requesting an appointment online.

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