Shoulder osteoarthritis

Shoulder osteoarthritis is a chronic degenerative disease affecting the shoulder joint. Shoulder osteoarthritis can have a variety of causes, including:

  • Natural wear and tear: With aging, the cartilage in the shoulder joint can gradually wear away, contributing to the development of osteoarthritis.
  • Previous injuries: Injuries to the shoulder, such as fractures, dislocations or tendon injuries, may increase the risk of osteoarthritis in the future.
  • Overload and overuse: Repetitive activities or overuse of the shoulder in work or sports activities can trigger joint wear and tear and osteoarthritis.


Diagnosis of osteoarthritis of the shoulder involves a thorough clinical evaluation and diagnostic testing. The following methods are frequently used:

  • Medical history: The physician gathers information about symptoms, such as pain, stiffness and loss of function in the shoulder, as well as medical history and previous shoulder injuries.
  • Physical examination: A physical examination is performed to assess the mobility of the shoulder, the presence of pain and crepitus, and to look for signs of inflammation.
  • X-rays: X-rays of the shoulder may show signs of osteoarthritis, such as joint space narrowing, osteophytes and joint deformity.
  • Ultrasound: Ultrasound can be useful in the detection and initial diagnosis of shoulder osteoarthritis. It allows visualization of changes in joint structures, such as joint space narrowing, osteophytes (bone spurs) and calcium deposits, and to assess the presence of inflammation in the shoulder joint.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): In some cases, an MRI may be ordered to obtain more detailed images of the joint and to assess the integrity of tissues such as cartilage and tendons.


Primary osteoarthritis: This is the most common form of shoulder osteoarthritis and occurs without a specific identifiable cause, usually related to aging and natural wear and tear of the joint.

Secondary osteoarthritis: Develops as a result of a previous injury, such as fractures, dislocations or tendon injuries.


Treatment of osteoarthritis of the shoulder is aimed at relieving symptoms, improving function and slowing the progression of the disease.

Conservative management:

  • Physical therapy: Strengthening and stretching exercises can help maintain mobility and strengthen the muscles around the shoulder.
  • Medications: Analgesics, such as acetaminophen, may help relieve pain. In some cases, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be prescribed to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Intra-articular infiltrations: Corticosteroid infiltrations can be performed in the shoulder joint to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.

Viscosupplementation therapy: In some cases, injection of hyaluronic acid into the shoulder joint may be used to improve lubrication and reduce friction, which may relieve symptoms.


  • Arthroscopy: A small camera and surgical tools are used to clean and repair damaged tissues in the shoulder.
  • Partial or total shoulder arthroplasty: In severe cases of shoulder osteoarthritis, partial or total replacement of the shoulder joint by prosthesis may be necessary.