October 14, 2021

Different Types of Shoulder Arthritis

If you frequently experience pain, stiffness, and limited mobility in one or both of your shoulders, you may be suffering from shoulder arthritis. Shoulder arthritis pertains to inflammation surrounding at least one of the two joints that connect the bones that make up your shoulder (i.e., your collarbone, shoulder blade, and upper arm bone). Specifically, you can experience pain in your shoulder from inflammation where your shoulder blade and collarbone meet as well as where your upper arm bone and shoulder blade meet.

Common Types of Shoulder Arthritis

  According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, there are five types of shoulder arthritis that most commonly affect patients. In order of frequency, they are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, posttraumatic arthritis, rotator cuff tear arthropathy, and avascular necrosis. 


Osteoarthritis (OA) of the shoulder is the most common type of shoulder arthritis, affecting nearly one-third of all adults in the United States over the age of 60. Often referred to as “wear-and-tear” arthritis, shoulder OA refers to the breakdown of protective cartilage between your shoulder joints that helps your arm move fluidly whenever you are using it. According to the Arthritis Foundation, osteoarthritis of the shoulder can either be primary OA (where there is no known cause) or secondary OA (where a previous injury, infection, or other event can be pinpointed as a cause of shoulder OA).

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease, which means that your immune system will often attack healthy tissue in your body and soften bones. When you have RA, the joints that are affected are symmetrical, which means that if your left shoulder was experiencing inflammation and pain due to RA, your right shoulder would be as well. Women have double the likelihood of developing RA in their lifetime compared to men.

One medical study reported that as many as 91% of individuals with RA experience arthritis in their shoulders, and another suggested that women have nearly double the lifetime risk of developing RA compared to men.

Post-Traumatic arthritis

Post-traumatic arthritis of the shoulder is a type of arthritis that can occur after you have a traumatic injury to the shoulder, such as getting in an accident or falling. Specifically, it can occur after the shoulder joints start to heal after the injury. Repeatedly hurting your shoulder and being overweight or obese can increase the risk of post-traumatic arthritis. 

Rotator Cuff Tear Arthropathy

Rotator cuff tear arthropathy is a type of degenerative shoulder joint disease that can sometimes occur after the rotator cuff in your shoulder, which is a group of muscles and tendons that hold your shoulder in place, tears. Over time, this can cause a breakdown of the protective cartilage, bones, and tendons that help your shoulder stay in place and move effectively during your everyday life.

Rotator cuff tear arthropathy is most common in the elderly over age 70 and is usually seen in the dominant arm of individuals.

Avascular Necrosis

Avascular necrosis of the shoulder is a condition that results in the breakdown of the joints and bones in the shoulder due to its blood supply being affected by another condition in the body. Without an adequate blood supply, important nutrients and oxygen cannot be delivered to the shoulder, which causes it to start to break down.

While sometimes there is no known cause, medical research has shown an increased risk of avascular necrosis in individuals who have sickle cell anemia or alcohol use disorder.

Treatment of Shoulder Arthritis

Although there is no cure for any type of shoulder arthritis, there are both activities and treatments that your health care provider at BrioMD can recommend to help reduce your pain, improve your mobility, and live a better life. 

Different types of treatments available for shoulder arthritis include:

  • Physical therapy to improve range of motion and mobility in the shoulder;
  • Corticosteroid injections in the shoulder;
  • Over-the-counter (OTC) and/or prescription medications to reduce pain and inflammation;
  • Surgical procedures to help reduce the source of pain and improve your shoulder mobility, such as a shoulder replacement procedure or a resection arthroplasty.

The providers at BrioMD are experienced and trained in their specialties and can evaluate your case to best determine what treatments you may benefit from the most. 

We look forward to hearing from you and helping you live a better life without pain from shoulder arthritis!

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October 14, 2021


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