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Arthritis of the Shoulder
Treatment

As with other arthritic conditions, initial treatment of arthritis of the shoulder is nonsurgical and may involve physical therapy. In addition, some therapies you may try include:

  • Rest or change activities to avoid provoking pain. You may need to modify the way you move your arm to do things.
  • Physical therapy
  • Moist heat
  • Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), such as aspirin or ibuprofen, to reduce inflammation
  • Ice the shoulder for 20 to 30 minutes two or three times a day to reduce inflammation and ease pain
  • If you have rheumatoid arthritis, your doctor may prescribe a disease-modifying medication, such as methotrexate, or recommend a series of corticosteroid injections.
  • Dietary supplements, such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate (Note: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not test dietary supplements. These compounds may cause negative interactions with other medications. Always consult your doctor before taking dietary supplements)

Surgical Treatment

If nonsurgical treatment does not reduce pain, there are surgical options. As with all surgeries, there are some risks and possible complications. Your orthopedic surgeon will do all that is possible to minimize these risks.

Arthritis of the glenohumeral joint can be treated by replacing the entire shoulder joint with a prosthesis (total shoulder arthroplasty) or by replacing the head of the upper arm bone (hemiarthroplasty).

The most common surgical procedure used to treat arthritis of the acromioclavicular joint is a resection arthroplasty. In this procedure, a small piece of bone from the end of the collarbone is removed, leaving a space that later fills with scar tissue. Surgical treatment of arthritis of the shoulder is generally very effective in reducing pain and restoring motion.

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.

Related Information

UCSF Clinics & Centers

Orthopedics

Sports Medicine Center
1500 Owens St.
San Francisco, CA 94158
Appointments: (415) 353–2808
Main: (415) 353–9400
Fax: (415) 885–3862
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