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Shoulder Arthritis: Definition-Types-Etiology


Shoulder arthritis is a condition that occurs when the cartilage in the shoulder joint breaks down. This can lead to pain, stiffness, and decreased range of motion.

The shoulder joint is a ball-and-socket joint, which means that the head of the humerus (the upper arm bone) fits into a socket in the shoulder blade (the scapula). The cartilage that covers the ends of these bones helps to cushion them and keep them from rubbing against each other.

When the cartilage breaks down, the bones rub against each other, causing pain. The joint may also become stiff and difficult to move.

Types of Shoulder Arthritis

There are several different types of shoulder arthritis, including:

  • Osteoarthritis: This is the most common type. It is caused by the wear and tear of the cartilage over time.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: This is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation throughout the body. It can also affect the shoulder joint, leading to cartilage breakdown.
  • Rotator cuff tear arthropathy: This type of arthritis occurs after a rotator cuff tear. The rotator cuff is a group of tendons that help to stabilize the shoulder joint. When a rotator cuff tear occurs, the tendons can no longer do their job properly, which can lead to cartilage breakdown.
  • Post-traumatic arthritis: This type of arthritis can occur after an injury to the shoulder joint, such as a fracture or dislocation. The injury can damage the cartilage, leading to arthritis.

Etiology of Shoulder Arthritis

The exact cause of shoulder arthritis is not fully understood. However, there are a number of factors that can contribute to the development of this condition, including:

  • Age: It is more common in older adults.
  • Genetics: Some people are more likely to develop this disease due to their genes.
  • Injury: A previous injury to the shoulder joint can increase the risk of developing arthritis.
  • Occupation: Some occupations, such as those that require repetitive overhead movements, can put extra stress on the shoulder joint and increase the risk of arthritis.
  • Degenerative changes: Over time, the cartilage in the shoulder joint can naturally break down, leading to arthritis.

Symptoms of Shoulder Arthritis

The symptoms can vary from person to person. However, some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Pain: The pain is usually worse with activity and at night.
  • Stiffness: The shoulder may be stiff and difficult to move.
  • Reduced range of motion: The shoulder may not be able to move as freely as it used to.
  • Crepitus: This is a crackling or popping sound that can be heard when the shoulder moves.
  • Weakness: The shoulder may feel weak and may not be able to support as much weight as it used to.


It is a common condition that can cause pain, stiffness, and decreased range of motion.  The treatment depends on the severity of the condition and the response to treatment. Treatment plan depends on diagnosis made through imaging studies and  physical examination. With proper treatment, most people can live active and pain-free lives.

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