Wear & Tear of Your Shoulder: No Gain, Just Pain

Shoulder X-ray

by Uma Srikumaran, M.D.

The shoulder is one of the most complex joints in the body and provides an incredible range of motion that we often take for granted on a day-to-day basis. Although we don’t walk on our shoulders, this joint is susceptible to wear and tear just like hips and knees. In the shoulder, wear and tear most frequently refers to thinning or loss of the cartilage lining of the joint (arthritis) or tears of the rotator cuff tendon. The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that help lift and rotate your shoulder.

Arthritis and rotator cuff tears are increasingly common as we age, with the majority of people developing arthritis after the age of 60 and rotator cuff tears after the age of 40. Prior injuries such as dislocation can accelerate the loss of cartilage in the joint, leading to arthritis at a younger age. Likewise, placing a higher demand on your shoulder with repetitive overhead activities can lead to more advanced rotator cuff disease earlier in life. These conditions are referred to as ‘wear and tear’ because of the slow and progressive nature of the degeneration, much like wearing a hole through your sock.

Arthritis presents gradually increasing pain and loss of motion, ultimately making it difficult to participate in sports or perform basic activities of living, such as getting dressed. Rotator cuff tears also present with pain, but can also be associated with weakness, making it difficult to reach overhead or lift things away from the body.

There are many treatment options for both arthritis and rotator cuff tears ranging from preventative approaches to surgical reconstruction. If you are having ongoing pain or are losing function of your shoulder, see your orthopedic surgeon so a diagnosis can be made. Together with your surgeon, management options can be discussed and the appropriate treatment can be selected.

Learn more…

Join Uma Srikumaran, M.D., on May 31st from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. for “Shoulder Wear and Tear” at the Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center. Dr. Srikumaran will talk about wear and tear conditions that commonly affect the shoulder such as rotator cuff disease and arthritis. Review symptoms, surgical and nonsurgical treatment options and what to expect from treatment. The seminar is free, but registration is required.



Uma Srikumaran recently returned to Johns Hopkins from Harvard (Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital), where he completed a fellowship in shoulder/elbow surgery. Dr. Srikumaran first joined Johns Hopkins as a medical student before completing his residency with the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Currently he serves as an Assistant professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Johns Hopkins University, sees patients at Howard County General Hospital and downtown Baltimore AND serves as a team physician to the Baltimore Orioles.

1 Comment

  1. tom rinaldi

    I will be seeing you soon for a hemispherical resurfacing [i hope] is it possible to do a chondrocyte implantation [cartilage transplant] also,
    looking forward to speaking to you 717 799 9140, thank you for your time.