Doc w hand on patient's shoulder

Shoulder arthritis involves the breakdown of cartilage.

Normal cartilage protects a joint and allows it to move smoothly. Cartilage also absorbs shock when pressure is placed across the joint.

Without the normal amount of cartilage, the bones rub together. This causes, swelling (inflammation) and stiffness.

A the University of Maryland, our shoulder surgeons are experts in treating shoulder arthritis.

To make an appointment with our team, please call 410-448-6400 or request an appointment online.

Joint Arthritis Causes

  • An autoimmune disease (the body's immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue)
  • Broken bone
  • General "wear and tear" on joints
  • Infection, usually by bacteria or virus

In most cases, the joint inflammation goes away after the cause goes away or is treated. Sometimes it does not. When this happens, you have chronic arthritis. Arthritis may occur in men or women. Osteoarthritis is the most common type.

Shoulder Arthritis Symptoms

  • Joint pain
  • Joint swelling
  • Reduced ability to move the joint
  • Redness and warmth of the skin around a joint
  • Joint stiffness, especially in the morning


The goal of treatment is to reduce pain, improve function, and prevent further joint damage. The underlying cause often cannot be cured.

Non-Surgical Treatment for Shoulder Arthritis

One of our health care providers may suggest physical therapy. This might include:

  • Heat or ice
  • Water therapy
  • Massage

Medicines may be prescribed along with lifestyle changes. All medicines have some risks. You should be closely followed by a doctor when taking arthritis medicines. Cortisone injections into the shoulder joint may be helpful to alleviate pain.

Other things you can do include:

  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Avoid staying in one position for too long.
  • Avoid positions or movements that place extra stress on your sore joints.
  • Change your home to make activities easier. For example, install grab bars in the shower, the tub, and near the toilet.
  • Try stress-reducing activities.
  • Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, which contain important vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin E.
  • Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol and smoking.
  • Apply capsaicin cream over your painful joints. You may feel improvement after applying the cream for 3 to 7 days.

If there is still significant pain and limitation of function despite all conservative treatment measures, surgery may be helpful.

Surgical Treatment for Shoulder Arthritis

  • Arthroscopic surgery to release tight tissue and remove bone spurs may be effective if the arthritis is still relatively mild to moderate.
  • Shoulder joint replacement (arthroplasty) is an option in advanced arthritis. It can be very effective in alleviating pain and restoring a functional range of motion.

To make an appointment with one of our shoulder specialists or to learn more about our services, locations and treatment options, please call 410-448-6400 or request an appointment online.

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