Shoulder arthritis occurs when the cartilage in the shoulder wears out or deteriorates. Arthritis in the shoulder is much less common than in the knee or the hip. It can be due to simple wear and tear over time (osteoarthritis), inflammatory disease (such as rheumatoid arthritis), trauma, rotator cuff arthropathy – this is a condition which occurs in some patients with long-standing irreparable rotator cuff tears.
Nonoperative treatment of arthritis consists of activity modification, anti-inflammatory medications, and steroid injections. Surgical treatment consists of a shoulder replacement. In a shoulder replacement, either the entire shoulder is replaced (total shoulder replacement), or just the humeral head is replaced (hemiarthroplasty). Patients with rotator cuff arthropathy may require a special type of shoulder replacement known as a reverse shoulder replacement. The choice of replacement is individualized based on the patient. Recovery after a shoulder replacement typically involves one to two nights in the hospital followed by several months of physical therapy.