Arthritis is a condition where there is a loss of cartilage covering the joint surfaces. Such loss of cartilage may lead to pain, stiffness, loss of movements and loss of function.

The hallmark feature of arthritis in the shoulder joint is loss of movements in all planes. The arthritis can be mistaken for a frozen shoulder and radiological investigations (e.g X-rays) are usually helpful in differentiating one from the other.

The most common form of arthritis seen in the shoulder is osteoarthritis. This maybe characterised by gradual onset pain and loss of function and mobility. Inflammatory conditions such as Rheumatoid arthritis can also affect the shoulder joint. Inflammatory process affecting the lining of the joint (synovium) may encroach upon the joint surface leading to secondary damage and arthritis.

Rotator cuff arthritis (also called Cuff Arthropathy) is a form of arthritis specific to the shoulder joint. It is a sequel of long standing rotator cuff tears. It is thought that abnormal biomechanics and proximal migration (upward movement) of the humeral head may predispose to development of such arthritis.

Other reasons for developing shoulder arthritis are post traumatic (after injury), post infective (after infection) and congenital (poorly formed joint).


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