Shoulder Arthritis

What is shoulder arthritis?

Shoulder arthritis is caused by wear and tear of the cartilage in the shoulder joint, causing severe pain and limiting your ability to perform everyday tasks that require an overhead motion, such as bathing, dressing or combing your hair. Main Line Health offers orthopaedic experts with training and experience to quickly diagnose your shoulder arthritis and get you on the path to recovery.

Causes of shoulder arthritis

Arthritis is an umbrella term for wear and tear of the soft tissue surrounding a joint. The most common type is osteoarthritis, which can occur from the normal deterioration of cartilage with aging or overuse. Arthritis can also be caused by damage from an injury to the shoulder.

Symptoms of shoulder arthritis

The symptoms you experience depend on your age, health and the severity of your arthritis, and may include:

  • Stiffness, swelling or decreased range of motion
  • Pain with overhead activities
  • Occasional night pain (after sleeping on the arm) or pain with daily activities
  • Catching, locking, popping or grinding sound when you use the tendon


The orthopaedic care team at Main Line Health can help relieve your shoulder pain and create a personalized treatment plan aimed at restoring shoulder mobility as quickly as possible. If you suspect that shoulder arthritis is impacting your daily life, schedule an appointment with an orthopaedic specialist at Main Line Health.

Your doctor will discuss your medical history and perform a physical exam to assess your pain and range of motion. Your doctor may also order imaging of your shoulder, such as an X-ray, MRI or CT scan.

Based on the results of your evaluation and imaging, your provider will discuss personalized treatment options. Many patients will see results with conservative, non-surgical treatments, including:

  • Rest and activity modification
  • Medications to reduce inflammation
  • Physical therapy
  • Corticosteroid injections

Shoulder arthritis is usually managed with surgery only after nonsurgical treatment has failed. If surgery is required, Main Line Health offers board-certified orthopaedic surgeons trained in advanced surgical techniques to help relieve your pain and regain shoulder range of motion.

Your shoulder specialist will discuss surgical options and work with you to create a care plan that helps you achieve your recovery goals. Surgical treatments include:

Shoulder Joint Replacement

Learn more about the total shoulder joint replacement and reverse total shoulder replacement surgeries offered and Main Line Health.

Arthroscopy and Arthroplasty

Arthroscopic surgery, also known simply as arthroscopy and arthroplasty are two minimally invasive surgical types. A traditional or open surgical procedure is one that opens up an area fully. Minimally-invasive procedures encompass both small incision surgeries and those with minimally invasive techniques that do not open up an area fully. Arthroscopic surgery

Shoulder Tear Repair

During arthroscopic surgery, the doctor will examine the rim and the biceps tendon. If the injury is confined to the rim itself, without involving the tendon, the shoulder is still stable.

Shoulder Surgery, Revision

Shoulder arthritis recovery

Orthopaedics at Main Line Health offers an orthopaedic care team to guide you through every step of treatment and recovery. Our experts create a personalized care plan to help you get relief from shoulder pain and achieve your recovery goals.

Patients who benefit from nonsurgical treatments can expect to see improvement in pain relief and range of motion in the shoulder within a few months of initial diagnosis.

If your treatment requires a surgical shoulder repair, you'll require time to rest and heal. Your surgeon will prescribe outpatient physical therapy immediately following surgery to help improve mobility and strengthen your shoulder. You'll also be given exercises to do at home. Compliance with physical therapy is very important to improve shoulder mobility after surgery.

Comprehensive orthopaedic rehabilitation for shoulder arthritis, with a personal touch

Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Hospital offers a robust orthopaedic rehab program with a focus on helping patients build strength, mobility and endurance. Extensive rehab offerings include inpatient rehabilitation at Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Hospital and outpatient services at convenient locations throughout the Philadelphia region. A customized rehab plan is created to meet each patient's personal goals for recovery.

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