Home Clean Living The stiff arthritic shoulder – anatomic or reverse total shoulder

The stiff arthritic shoulder – anatomic or reverse total shoulder


Many people with arthritic shoulders feel stiff and painful.

The preoperative loss in passive range of motion (stiffness), can be documented in various directions to show the severity and type of limitation of motion. These drawings are by Steve Lippitt.



External rotation with the arm to the side

External rotation of the arm abducted

Internal rotation of the arm abducted

Reach for the posterior section that can be reached using the thumb.

Cross body adduction is the distance between the antecubital fossa (and the contralateral Acromion) – note the two-headedarrows

Capsular and muscle contracture can cause stiffness in the arthritic shoulder.

Osteophytes block motion

irregular joint surfaces,

bony deformities

Prior surgical procedures

Scarring and inflammation in the interface for humeroscapular movement

It’s often worth offering a patient with stiff arthritic shoulders a gentle stretching exercise trial. This is for two reasons: (1) It may significantly improve their comfort and function, and (2) it familiarizes them the exercises that will be part their postoperative recovery. You can also see Essential Shoulder Exercises.

Here is how we approach anatomic shoulder arthroplasty.

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