The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis of the shoulder is unknown, but genetics and environmental factors play a role in the body attacking its own cells. When cartilage that protects the joints wears away, bone rubs against bone, causing pain and other issues such as bone spurs.
The most common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis of the shoulder are pain, swelling, and stiffness. A popping or grinding sensation is usually detected when moving the arm. Rheumatoid arthritis limits mobility and is often present in both arms equally.
Physicians will ask about symptoms and medical history in order to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis. A physical exam will also be performed, looking for factors such as movement limitations and swelling. X-rays may also be used to confirm arthritis in the bone.
Although there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis of the shoulder, symptoms can be treated effectively with rest, modifications to daily activities, anti-inflammatory medications, and injections. Physical therapy is also successful at restoring range of motion and strength to the shoulder. If pain is persistent, surgery may be beneficial.