Shoulder Arthritis Physical Therapy

Shoulder arthritis can significantly restrict movement and disrupt your quality of life. Early signs include shoulder pain, a clicking/cracking sound, and stiffness in the shoulder joint.  The condition worsens as wear and tear increases. 

Specialized Physical Therapy helps patients manage shoulder pain and related symptoms through targeted shoulder arthritis physical therapy. The treatment might not cure arthritis, but it can reduce the risk of surgery in many cases.

Overview: Shoulder Arthritis

Shoulder arthritis is a painful condition that occurs due to inflammation in the affected joint. It targets the bigger ball-and-socket joint, called the glenohumeral joint.

Shoulder arthritis develops after the shoulder cartilage starts breaking down on the surface and then continues to degenerate with time. Early symptoms include significant shoulder pain, swollen joints, stiffness, and limited range of motion.

Our shoulder arthritis physical therapy plans can prevent chronic shoulder pain and significant disability. We also help patients regain optimal movement and flexibility in the affected area. The results depend on the severity of their condition and how soon they start physical therapy. 


Common symptoms of shoulder arthritis include:

  • Shoulder pain that starts as a dull ache before progressing into a continuous ache
  • Discomfort and shoulder pain felt when a person lifts or carries objects
  • Stiff joints and limited mobility
  • Pain when sleeping on the affected shoulder
  • Clicking, grinding, or cracking (crepitus) felt when you move the affected shoulder


The most common cause of shoulder arthritis is age-related wear and tear of the cartilage. People aged 50 and above are at an increased risk of developing this condition.

The deterioration occurs in stages:

  • The cartilage becomes soft and loses its strength
  • The shoulder cartilage develops cracks in the surface
  • It begins to deteriorate and flake over time
  • It wears away, exposing the surface of the bone

After that, the affected cartilage no longer serves as a smooth, gliding surface. Due to this, it allows shoulder bones to rub against one another.  In turn, this can cause excruciating shoulder pain, swelling, and stiffness. 

Other causes include:

  • Excessive wear and tear of cartilage due to repetitive movements and overuse of shoulder joint
  • Shoulder injury/trauma
  • Shoulder fracture
  • Dislocation
  • Genetics and hereditary


Your therapy begins with a detailed medical history review focused on specific symptoms and past medical history. We will ask you questions regarding the current shoulder pain and how it affects your daily activities.

Due to overlapping symptoms, shoulder arthritis often gets misdiagnosed as a rotator cuff tear, impingement, and generalized shoulder injury. We are trained to eliminate this risk by carefully comparing patients’ activity levels, posture, and range of motion to determine the main cause of the problem. These physical exams and tests help us create a goal-oriented shoulder arthritis physical therapy plan. 


After a comprehensive initial evaluation, our physical therapists develop individualized physical therapy interventions and specific treatment options.  These holistic techniques and targeted therapy sessions are aimed to reduce symptoms quickly and effectively.

Most treatment plans include stretches, manual massage therapy, shoulder mobilizations, and strengthening exercises. You might also receive postural retraining exercises to ensure that the way you sit and stand does not place unwanted strain on the affected shoulder. 

Overall treatment aims to regain lost mobility, reduce pain and stiffness. With time, you can return to your prior level of function. These positive changes enable you to engage in your favorite hobbies and athletic activities after recovery. It also mitigates the risk of shoulder replacement or surgery. 

Has shoulder pain affected your lifestyle and daily performance? Contact Specialized Physical Therapy or call 201-773-8851 to schedule your first appointment today.

Request a free consultation or give us a call to get started!