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Shoulder Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis of the shoulder can cause pain and stiffness of your shoulder’s ball and socket joint. This can occur gradually as we age or as a result of trauma to the joint when younger. Being diagnosed with osteoarthritis does not necessarily mean your condition will get worse.


The most common symptoms include shoulder pain and stiffness. This may result in a restriction of shoulder movement and may have an impact on everyday activities i.e. washing/dressing, work or housework. You may also experience a popping/cracking sensation on movement of the shoulder. These sensations do not mean you are causing damage to your ball and socket joint. Pain whilst sleeping or lying on the affected shoulder is also a common symptom.


It can occur naturally as we age, typically in people over the age of 60. It may occur in younger individuals with a history of an injury to the shoulder.


This is based on the severity of your symptoms. The majority of people will benefit from a gentle exercise program and this has been shown to improve shoulder pain and function. You may be referred for a course of physiotherapy. If you are struggling to manage your symptoms, you may be referred to the MSK team to discuss other treatment options.

Why does my shoulder still hurt?

Video: Why does my shoulder still hurt?

Healthy Lifestyle

Leading a healthy lifestyle can be very helpful in managing osteoarthritis and your shoulder pain. Keeping active can help to reduce your pain and help with fatigue, which may also improve your sleep and overall health.

When to seek advice

If you have severe pain affecting your sleep and daily activities, if you have had a serious injury or you have symptoms that have not improved with self-management, you should contact your GP practice. If you have a red, hot swollen joint please ring 111