Although most glenohumeral cartilaginous lesions are incidental findings and well tolerated, a symptomatic cartilage injury in a young, active individual remains a challenge. The diagnosis of this symptomatic lesion is difficult, and is usually only arrived at once other shoulder comorbidities and sources of glenohumeral pain are ruled out. Once diagnosed, a variety of treatment options are available which include palliative, reparative, restorative, and reconstruction techniques. The smallest lesions are amenable to reparative strategies such as marrow-stimulation, stimulating a fibrocartilaginous response. Larger lesions and those that have failed reparative techniques may be candidates for restorative or reconstruction procedures to replace damaged cartilage with hyaline-like tissue. The presence of bipolar injury may require the use of biologic interpositional arthroplasty. This review describes the challenges associated with the diagnosis and management of glenohumeral arthritis, and provides a treatment framework for use in these challenging patients.

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