The glenohumeral joint is a joint in the shoulder. The ball-and-socket joint is vulnerable to osteoarthritis due to its frequent use. It can become worn down with age, causing pain and mobility issues.

It can be difficult to tell if it is from osteoarthritis or another underlying cause. Over time, Osteoarthritis can start to get worse. There can be more shoulder pain caused by an injury or an illness.

We will discuss the symptoms of osteoarthritis, how it is diagnosed, and what treatment options are available.

Illustration showing the shoulder joint, highlighting in red where the humerous meets scapula
Illustration by Maya Chastain

Osteoarthritis can affect more than the glenohumeral joint.

Your shoulder anatomy includes the:

  • Humerus: the upper bone of the arm
  • Scapula (shoulder blade): the wing-like portion of the back of the shoulder
  • Clavicle (collarbone): connects the arm to the body
  • Glenohumeral joint: where the head of the humerus (ball) meets the scapula (socket), allowing the shoulder to move in a circular motion
  • Acromioclavicular joint: where the clavicle meets the acromion (top portion of the scapula)

The acromioclavicular joint is a common site of shoulderOsteoarthritis.

The bone or bones underneath the cartilage can become damaged over time. This can lead to glenohumeral osteoarthritis.

This form of osteoarthritis has some key symptoms.

  • The shoulder joint is stiff.
  • Joint pain.
  • There was limited movement in the shoulder joint.

Other causes of shoulder pain

Your doctor will look at other conditions to rule out other conditions as part of your evaluation. Some of these other potential conditions can be identified and ruled out with a physical exam, The X-ray was taken., or magnetic resonance.

Other causes of shoulder pain are also common.

glenohumeral osteoarthritis is a progressive condition. The pain may start out mild and get worse as time goes on. A sudden shoulder pain is most likely a symptom of an injury or an illness.

Sometimes healthcare professionals can have difficulty in determining if a patient is suffering from glenohumeral osteoarthritis. Its symptoms are similar to those of the neck or shoulder.

You will have to take your medical history and physical examination to be diagnosed. Questions your healthcare professional may ask include:

  • When did your pain start?
  • Have you experienced any accidents recently?
  • Do you have a history of injuries to your shoulder?
  • Have you noticed any swelling or lump in the shoulder?
  • Do you have neck pain?
  • Does the pain travel from your shoulder to your fingers?
  • What makes the pain worse? What makes it better?

Your healthcare professional can use these questions to determine next steps. Evaluating osteoarthritis with an image test includes:

Your healthcare professional may ask you to move your arms, neck, and shoulder during your physical exam. They will look at the shoulder area for redness or swelling.

If your first stop is a primary care doctor, they may order further diagnostic work, like an orthodontist or rheumatologist.

The severity of your symptoms and other health factors will affect the treatment of glenohumeral osteoarthritis.

Conservative methods

Doctors will usually recommend conservative medical treatments first.

Surgical options

“Doctors may recommend more aggressive surgical approaches. This includes instances when your pain gets worse, or you don’t respond to conservative treatments.”

There are surgical treatments for shoulder osteoarthritis.

  • Shoulder arthroscopy: This procedure removes painful bony growths that develop in the glenohumeral joint. It can also help repair damage to the structures that support the shoulder, such as cartilage.
  • Shoulder hemiarthroplasty: This is a partial joint replacement procedure that involves replacing the humeral portion of the shoulder with an artificial implant.
  • Total shoulder replacement (TSR): This is the most comprehensive and invasive surgery. In a TSR procedure, a surgeon replaces both sides of the shoulder joint (the humeral and glenoid sides) with implants.

There are benefits and risks to each procedure. Discuss your options with your doctor if you have shoulder osteoarthritis.

There are potential implant problems, but they are rare.

According to 2016 research, an estimated 16% to 20% of people ages 50 and older have glenohumeral osteoarthritis.

Older age is the most significant risk factor for osteoarthritis. The condition is a “wear and tear” disease where frequent use can wear down the joint over time.

There are other risk factors for glenohumeral osteoarthritis that can cause it in a younger person.

  • A family history of arthritis.
  • There was a previous injury to the shoulder joint.
  • A job requires repeated arm and shoulder activity.
  • “It’s obese.”

Not every person with one or more of these risk factors will have osteoarthritis. Some people may develop osteoarthritis in a different joint.

Quality of life can be affected by glenohumeral osteoarthritis. Natural wear and tear from age and previous injury can cause it.

Over time, pain can lead to serious effects on your comfort and mobility.

Most cases respond well to OTC treatments, including taking nonsteroidal anti- inflammatory drugs.

“If your symptoms don’t improve with OTC treatment, your doctor may recommend more intrusive treatments, such as partial or total shoulder joint replacement.”

Don’t wait to address shoulder or other Joint pain.that affects your life. Talk with your doctor about your symptoms to get a timely diagnosis and prevent further inflammation.