Shoulder arthritis

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If you have been diagnosed with shoulder arthritis or suspect you may have the condition, you’re not alone. There are more than 100 variations of rheumatic diseases—osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis being the most common. Although shoulder arthritis more commonly affects individuals over the age of 50, everyone is susceptible to developing the condition, especially those who are predisposed due to a hereditary history. At OrthoAspen we understand the active lifestyle of Aspen residents. For that reason, we strive to find the best solution to treating shoulder arthritis to help patients live as comfortably, actively and productively as possible.

Types, Causes & Symptoms

Types and Causes of Shoulder Arthritis

In simple terms, arthritis refers to inflammation of one or more of the joints and is typically used to describe any condition in which the cartilage has experienced damage.

The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Take a look:

  • Osteoarthritis
    Referred to as a degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis is the most common, primarily affecting elderly populations. Over time, cartilage wears down and in extreme cases, can even completely wear away, leaving nothing to protect the bones in a joint. This can result in bone-on-bone contact as well as bones that bulge or stick out at the end of a joint (bone spur). Untreated, shoulder osteoarthritis can limit or completely impair an individual’s range of motion and/or movement.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
    Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks healthy joints, tissues and organs. Occurring most often in women of childbearing age (15-44), this disease inflames the lining (or synovium) of joints. Rheumatoid arthritis affects mostly joints of the hands and feet and is the only form of arthritis to develop symmetrically.

Symptoms of Shoulder Arthritis

The most common sign and symptom of shoulder arthritis is pain. In addition to pain in and around the shoulder, additional signs of shoulder arthritis may include:

  • Stiffness in or around the shoulder
  • Swelling in the shoulder area
  • Loss of function in the shoulder joints
  • Centralized pain in the G-H joint located in the back of the shoulder
  • Centralized pain in the A-C joint, leading to pain on the top portion of the shoulder extending to the collarbone
  • Accentuated discomfort in the shoulder during weather changes
  • Loss of shoulder range of motion and movement
  • Redness and heat in the shoulder joints

If you exhibit any of the symptoms above, our OrthoAspen providers are dedicated to working toward a solution to help you return to your active lifestyle as soon as possible.


To properly diagnose shoulder arthritis our OrthoAspen providers will assess the cartilage lining for damage and inflammation, take x-rays and conduct imaging through a CT or MRI.


While there is no cure for arthritis, prescription anti-inflammatory medicine, occupational therapy, or physiotherapy in which exercises and heat treatment are applied to the affected area, have been known to ease shoulder arthritis symptoms.

In assessing the best approach to pursue in addressing shoulder arthritis, our main goal at OrthoAspen is to find a treatment that will help active Aspen residents resume their active lives safely and quickly.

In severe cases, surgery may be suggested. The type of surgery will depend on the age and severity of the disease for individual patients. Elderly patients with severe arthritis can often benefit from receiving a joint replacement. A common surgery for treatment of shoulder arthritis is arthroplasty (replacement of the damaged joint).

If you’d like to know more about the symptoms, diagnosis or treatment of shoulder arthritis, one of our OrthoAspen specialists is here to help. Contact us any time at 970-544-1289.


Visit OrthoAspen in two convenient locations
Aspen Clinic
Aspen Valley Hospital
0401 Castle Creek Rd., Suite 2100,

Aspen, CO 81611
+(970) 544-1289
+(970) 544-1400
Basalt Clinic
Midvalley Medical Center
1450 E. Valley Rd., Suite 201,

Basalt, CO 81621
+(970) 544-1289
+(970) 544-1400