Doctors hand on the patient

About Arthritis

Arthritis is the loss or damage of joint (articular) cartilage. Cartilage is a smooth, shiny surface that covers the ends of your bones. Normally, when cartilage rubs together, you have smooth and painless motion. When your cartilage degenerates, however, you can suffer from pain, limited motion and stiffness. Friction in the joint increases, pain increases and you slowly lose mobility and function.1 When you have arthritis, your soft tissues — the muscles, tendons, and ligaments surrounding and supporting the joint — can also become weak and unable to function.

Man with the fishing rod

​​​Osteoarthritis (OA)

Osteoarthritis is still not completely understood and, sadly, there is no cure, but there are many ways to ease pain, preserve mobility and stay active.1

Different factors may play a role in OA, including age, genes, trauma or overuse.1 Shoulder osteoarthritis can be either primary or secondary. Primary OA has no specific cause, but is related to age, genes and sex. Primary OA is usually seen in people over the age of 50, and women are affected more often than men. Secondary OA has a known cause or influencing factor, such as previous injury, history of shoulder dislocations, infection, or rotator cuff tears. Occupations that involve heavy lifting/manual labour can also put you at higher risk of developing shoulder OA. In shoulder OA – also called degenerative joint disease – your cartilage and other joint tissues gradually break down. Friction in the joint increases, pain increases and you slowly lose mobility and function.1

Women carrying baby on her shoulders in the street

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a systemic disease, meaning it may attack any or all joints in the body. It differs from OA in the following ways:​

  • Affects women more often than men​
  • Can affect young and old alike​
  • Causes destruction of the joint by severe auto-immune response to the joint cartilage 
Man in office attire cycling on the road

Trauma-Related Arthritis

Trauma-related arthritis results from damage to the joint from a previous injury. ​

It also results in joint damage, pain and loss of mobility.

There also are other, less common, forms of arthritis that can affect the shoulder. Septic arthritis can result from infection from bacteria, viruses, or other microorganisms. It is also associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Avascular necrosis (osteonecrosis) develops when the blood supply to the bone is disrupted and the bone begins to die. Both forms of arthritis can result from injury, fracture, or nontraumatic causes.​