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Shoulder Osteoarthritis (Degenerative Arthritis of the Shoulder)

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Your risk of developing osteoarthritis of the shoulder with its pain and physical limitations increases with age. But an injury, such as a dislocated shoulder, can lead to shoulder osteoarthritis even in young people. Here is information about the causes of and treatments for shoulder osteoarthritis. Read on to learn how an arthritic shoulder can affect your range of motion and ability to do everyday things, and discover ways to treat and manage the condition.

What Is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis -- also known as degenerative joint disease -- occurs when the cartilage that covers the tops of bones, known as articular cartilage, degenerates or wears down. This causes swelling, pain, and sometimes the development of osteophytes -- bone spurs -- when the ends of the two bones rub together.

What Is Osteoarthritis of the Shoulder?

The shoulder is made up of two joints, the acromioclavicular (AC) joint and the glenohumeral joint. The AC joint is the point where the collarbone, or clavicle, meets the acromion, which is the tip of the shoulder blade. The glenohumeral joint is the point where the top of the arm bone, or humerus, meets the shoulder blade, or scapula. Osteoarthritis is more commonly found in the AC joint.

Who Gets Shoulder Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis most often occurs in people who are over age 50. In younger people, osteoarthritis can result from an injury or trauma, such as a fractured or dislocated shoulder. This is known as posttraumatic arthritis. Osteoarthritis may also be hereditary.

What Are the Symptoms of Shoulder Osteoarthritis?

As with most types of osteoarthritis, pain is a key symptom. A person with shoulder arthritis is likely to have pain while moving the shoulder and after moving the shoulder. The person can even have pain while sleeping.

Another symptom may be a limited range of motion. This limitation can be seen when you are trying to move your arm. It can also be evident if someone is moving your arm to assess range of motion. Moving the shoulder might also produce a clicking or creaking noise.

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