4 Signs You May Have Shoulder Arthritis

If you have pain in your shoulder, it is likely some form of arthritis. It happens to be the most common symptom. The pain increases with activity and progressively gets worse as time passes. Now that you know pain is the main symptoms, let’s look at more specific signs related to the pain.

woman with shoulder pain.

Our Complicated Shoulders

Our shoulder is made up of many bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Arthritis is actually an inflammation of the shoulder joint which leads to cartilage loss with bones directly rubbing against each other.

It develops in stages: first the cartilage develops cracks, then it deteriorates and flakes, and finally it wears away to expose the surface of the bone. The result is the cartilage no longer acts as a smooth gliding surface for the joint to move comfortably.

Three Types of Shoulder Arthritis

They have similar symptoms but the causes are different.

  • Osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis due to wear and tear and related to aging. It is the most common form.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder where your own body attacks healthy cells. It attacks the joint lining causing it to swell.
  • Traumatic arthritis can develop after a trauma to the cartilage of the shoulder like from an auto accident, sports injury, post-fracture, or dislocation.

4 Signs You May Have Shoulder Arthritis

Cartilage loss varies from person to person and so do the symptoms.


This can occur in the front, back, or side of the shoulder. Sometimes the pain occurs with any movement and other times there is constant pain. It gets worse with lifting objects and exercising. With severe cases the pain can move down to the elbow and wrist.


Stiffness and loss of motion can interrupt everyday activities. This indicates that the arthritis is progressing.

Grinding or Clicking

You might also hear popping and cracking. These sounds are due to the irregular surface of the cartilage and may occur with or without pain.

Difficulty Sleeping

You lose sleep because you can’t find a comfortable position. It can help to put a pillow under your elbow for support if you sleep on your back. It is possible to get more comfortable in a recliner.

Every person’s shoulder arthritis is different with varying severity.

Request a Shoulder Evaluation

Talk with Dr. Camille Clinton about your shoulder arthritis treatment options and possible outcomes. Call (425) 899-4810 to schedule an appointment at our orthopedic office in Kirkland, WA.

Request Appointment




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