Shoulder Arthritis

Shoulder or glenohumeral arthritis occurs over time as joint cartilage is worn down and destroyed, narrowing the joint space.

Shoulder Arthritis

Shoulder or glenohumeral arthritis occurs over time as joint cartilage is worn down and destroyed, narrowing the joint space. This can be the result of degenerative changes, posttraumatic arthritis or inflammatory arthritis. Patients describe the pain as being worse with any kind of movement or strenuous activity and therefore motion tends to be limited. X-rays will reveal narrowed or negligent remaining joint space between the humeral head and the glenoid. Initial treatment usually consists of rest, NSAIDs, therapy and cortisone injections. Ultimately, depending on the patient’s health and age, a total shoulder arthroplasty may be indicated to alleviate pain and restore some function. If the rotator cuff is also compromised, a reverse total shoulder arthroplasty may be necessary. Please see the “Treatments” section for more information of this surgical treatment option.

Shoulder Arthritis

Frequently Asked Questions

Most shoulder pain can be treated with rest, anti-inflammatories and physical therapy. Any primary doctor or general orthopedist can prescribe these simple solutions, but a trained shoulder specialist won’t just treat your pain — they will diagnose and treat your specific problem

At Modern Orthopaedics, our trained shoulder specialists will ask the right questions, perform specific examinations and order imaging when appropriate. They will be able to diagnose your problem and treat you whether your problem is simple or complex. Although you may not feel like your shoulder issue is “bad enough” to see a specialist, it is advantageous to have the opinion of an expert in the field when it comes to your health.

Before deciding on the treatment for your shoulder pain, our doctors will first diagnose your problem. Depending on the type and severity of your problem, the treatment options will vary.

Generally, physical therapy will be involved in the first step of treatment. You will work closely with a therapist two to three times a week to develop a routine that is tailored to your diagnosis and needs. Therapy may take some time to help, which is why a six-week trial is generally recommended before proceeding with other treatment options.

Cortisone injections are often used in orthopedics. Our doctors are conservative when it comes to using cortisone injections and reserve them for specific situations. They are most commonly used for patients who may have a stiff or frozen shoulder or shoulder arthritis. They use them less commonly for rotator cuff issues, but there are exceptions. Each patient’s situation is unique, and our doctors will work with you to ensure the highest level of care.

Surgical intervention is reserved for shoulder issues that do not respond to more conservative measures or acute injuries that need to be addressed right away. The most common shoulder surgeries performed by our doctors are done arthroscopically. This allows for smaller incisions and a quicker recovery for our patients. The length of recovery, immobilization period and rehabilitation protocol differ depending on the surgery.

Generally, we would recommend NSAIDs to help decrease the inflammation that is causing your pain. This could be Motrin, Advil, Naproxen, or other anti-inflammatories. These can also be taken in conjunction with acetaminophen (Tylenol) for acute pain or postoperatively. Although these medicines are over the counter (OTC), they still come with risks and should not be used as a long-term solution to your pain. We would recommend discussing this with your doctor to see what regimen or combination of OTC medicine would be most helpful.

Personalized care

As our patient, you will have an in-depth consultation with one of our doctors. We will create an individualized treatment plan together, tailored to your problem and lifestyle. Our doctors prefer non-invasive treatments whenever possible, including physical therapy and/or injections. If your problem ultimately does require surgery, our doctors prefer the least invasive surgical techniques possible. Our goals are the same as yours: to get you back to living your best life, pain free. 

Get in touch

Please contact us using the below form or call (973) 898-5999 to request an appointment today.