Arthritic shoulders: Advanced treatment options

Arthritis is a disease that affects over 27 million Americans. Cleveland Clinic Florida Orthopaedic Surgeon, Gregory Gilot, MD, specialises in reconstructive shoulder surgery with an emphasis on minimally invasive and complex revision surgery. He shares his knowledge regarding the nature of arthritis, physical behavior modification, and advanced treatment options for arthritic shoulders. 

What is arthritis? 

Arthritis is a condition that can occur in any joint in the body as a result of wear and tear. As individuals age, the cartilage that caps the bones degenerates and no longer creates the smooth articular surface which facilitates a nice gliding motion in joints. The degeneration of cartilage eventually leads to bone on bone contact, generally resulting in pain. 


Who is affected by arthritis? 

Anybody can be affected; however the condition is more common in older individuals.  


What are conservative means of treating arthritis? 

Modifying activities is usually the first recommendation. Some activities put a great deal of stress on the joints, such as walking on hard surfaces, running, and playing singles tennis. Some less abrasive alternatives are using a stationary bike or stair climber and swimming.  


What are the most common causes of shoulder pain? 

The most frequent source of debilitating shoulder pain is arthritis. Specifically, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and trauma-related arthritis are the three most common causes of joint damage.  


What are my treatment options for arthritis of the shoulder? 

Non-surgical treatments for shoulder pain include rest, modification of activities, medications and sometimes physical therapy. If pain and disability cannot be managed with a non-operative program, surgery may be appropriate. 


What types of shoulder surgery are there? 

Shoulder replacement surgery is the third most frequent joint-replacement operation in the United States, following knee and hip joint replacements. As the population continues to age, the number of patients undergoing shoulder replacement is expected to steadily increase.  

A shoulder joint damaged by arthritis can be replaced with a prosthesis consisting of a metal ball and plastic socket. If only the ball portion of the joint needs to be replaced, the procedure used is a partial replacement or a hemiarthroplasty. When both the ball and the socket need to be replaced, it is referred to as a total shoulder arthroplasty. There is also the advanced reverse total shoulder replacement, which is designed for people with combined arthritis and rotator cuff tears who have exhausted all other means of treatment. It anatomically reverses the joint by attaching the ball implant to the shoulder blade and the socket at the top of the arm. 


How do I know what treatment option is best for me? 

Consultation with an orthopaedic surgeon is the best way for a patient to obtain the right diagnosis and the best treatment.  


To schedule an appointment with a Cleveland Clinic Florida physician, please call 1.800.639.DOCTOR, or visit