How to treat osteoarthritis of the shoulder joint

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease of the cartilage tissue that disrupts the normal functioning of the joint. In most cases, the disease is chronic. Osteoarthritis of the shoulder is characterized by pain and gradual loss of hand function. It is often found in pathological old age. The causes of osteoarthritis are age-related changes in the body, shoulder injuries, birth defects and constant stress on the shoulder girdle. If a person has discomfort in the shoulder girdle, it is necessary to consult a doctor and undergo an examination. With the help of a complex effect it is possible to stop the development of degenerative changes.

What is shoulder arthrosis?

Osteoarthritis of the shoulder - damage to the cartilage tissue of the joint, during which degenerative changes occur. The blood supply to the cartilage tissue is disrupted, so it stops getting enough nutrients and oxygen.The risk group includes people who experience excessive stress on the shoulders on a daily basis and have congenital defects in the joint tissues.In the early stages, a person feels excruciating pain, but the normal functionality of the shoulder is preserved. If the triggers are not eliminated, the disease will cause serious damage to health.

Diagnosis plays an important role in the treatment of osteoarthritis. With the help of X-rays it is possible to accurately determine the cause of the disease and the degree of damage.

Anatomical background

Congenital disorders of the structure of joints and connective tissues may be the cause of the appearance of the disease. If a person has features in the structure of the shoulder girdle, then even a normal load can provoke the appearance of osteoarthritis. To prevent problems, you should take preventive measures and consult a doctor regularly. Congenital dysplasia can be managed with massage and exercise therapy.

Causes and risk factors

All older people are at risk.According to WHO statistics, the likelihood of developing osteoarthritis increases significantly after 45 years.More than 50% of people under the age of 65 suffer from this disease. Among the reasons that trigger the early onset of the disease:

  • damage to the rotator cuff of the shoulder;
  • shoulder injury;
  • constant stress related to sports or work;
  • infectious and autoimmune pathologies;
  • obesity;
  • improper metabolism.

The older a person is, the higher the risk of degenerative joint damage.


The defeat of cartilage tissue is divided into primary and secondary. The diagnosis of primary osteoarthritis is made in the absence of concomitant diseases. It is usually found in old age. The reason for its appearance is age-related changes. Secondary appearance occurs due to injuries or against the background of another disease. In addition, the disease is classified according to location.Degenerative changes in the shoulder can occur in the shoulder joint itself or in the acromioclavicular joint.

Stages of development and symptoms

Symptoms depend on the stage of development of shoulder osteoarthritis. The pathology is divided into three stages:

  1. First. . . There are excruciating pains that intensify at night, the functionality of the shoulder girdle is preserved.
  2. The second. . . When moving the hands, a crisis is heard, the pain is constant, there is limited mobility of the shoulder.
  3. third. . . Severe pain, the arm is fixed in one position, protrusions are visible in the affected area, X-rays show a strong deformation of the joint.

The disease can not develop for a long time. If a person continues to load the shoulder girdle, then the situation worsens.

Which doctor to consult

Osteoarthritis of the shoulder joint is treated by various doctors. The initial examination is performed by a therapist or rheumatologist. In addition, the following specialists may be involved in the treatment:

  • surgeon;
  • orthopedist;
  • neurologist.

In most cases, the treatment regimen is prescribed by a rheumatologist.If the disease requires surgical treatment or intraarticular manipulations, the help of a surgeon is needed.If the nerve bundle is compressed due to the disease, it is necessary to consult a neurologist.

Only after a diagnostic examination will the therapist or rheumatologist determine whether the help of other specialists is needed.


A patient with arthrosis of the shoulder joint in consultation with a rheumatologist

Apparatus and laboratory tests, as well as manual examination are used to make an accurate diagnosis. First, various tests are performed. The person's history is studied. All this helps to make an initial diagnosis. In addition, MRI and radiography are used to determine the degree of narrowing of the joint space, the condition of blood vessels, synovium, tendons.

Hand examination

Manual examination includes palpation of the affected area and diagnostic tests. Pain usually occurs on palpation of the acromioclavicular joint. If a person has problems placing his hand behind his head, it may indicate that he has osteoarthritis of the shoulder joint. During the hand examination, the doctor will be able to detect inflammation. The information obtained during the hand examination plays an important role in the diagnosis.Examination should be performed by an experienced rheumatologist or therapist to ensure no harm during tests and functional tests.

Instrumental methods

Allows you to identify instrumental research methods:

  • degree of narrowing of the joint space;
  • uneven joint surface;
  • localization of osteoarthritis.

After the use of instrumental diagnostic methods, the necessary therapy is selected. X-rays, CT or MRI are used for diagnosis. These methods provide the necessary information. Instrumental examination may be repeated during treatment.

Radiography of arthrosis of the shoulder joint of the 2nd degree


Laboratory tests allow you to assess the condition of the body as a whole, as well as exclude inflammatory arthritis. First, blood is taken for analysis. All clinical and biochemical blood tests for osteoarthritis are normal. With arthritis, the rate of erythrocyte sedimentation rate, the amount of immunoglobulins and other markers of the inflammatory process in the body increases significantly. Based on the results, the doctor makes a final diagnosis and selects an effective treatment regimen.

Give blood on an empty stomach in the morning to get accurate results.


The approach to treatment is complex. Medications, physiotherapy, physiotherapy exercises are used. If the disease progresses or does not respond to treatment, surgery is used. Basic principles of therapy:

  • relieve pain;
  • stop the development of the disease;
  • activate the mechanisms of cartilage tissue regeneration.

At the initial stage, the result is achieved with the use of drugs.It is important to exclude provocative factors. Stable remission is achieved through physiotherapy and exercise therapy.


The following groups of drugs can be used for treatment:

  • non-steroidal anti-inflammatory;
  • chondroprotectors;
  • corticosteroids;
  • vasodilators.

NSAIDs and corticosteroids are used to relieve pain. They apply for a limited time. Chondroprotectors can accelerate the regeneration of cartilage tissue. Vasodilators help improve blood flow and relieve spasm of small blood vessels.

The contraindications should be carefully studied before prescribing this or that remedy. Only a doctor can properly combine all medications.


Surgery is performed only as a last resort when irreversible degenerative processes occur. The reasons for the operation are:

  • lack of effect of conservative therapy;
  • occurrence of complications;
  • appearance of severe degenerative changes.

If the joint has lost its original appearance, then arthroplasty is performed.The patient is replaced with a joint prosthesis. The operation is complex and requires a high degree of skill from the surgeon. Puncture and arthroscopy can also be performed to treat osteoarthritis.


If a large amount of fluid accumulates in the articular cavity, a puncture is performed. Also, this procedure is performed with infectious inflammations to determine the type of infection. Getting rid of excess fluid helps reduce pressure on the shoulder joint and increase its mobility. The procedure is minimally invasive, so recovery occurs as soon as possible after its completion. There are indications and contraindications for puncture. It is used only when fluid accumulation in the joint capsule or an infectious complication of osteoarthritis is suspected.


Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that removes damaged shoulder cartilage. The operation is performed using endoscopic equipment and a micro-camera. The advantage of this method of treatment is rapid rehabilitation. Removal of destroyed cartilage allows you to relieve stress and restore mobility in the joint. The disadvantage of the procedure is that access to the affected area is somewhat limited.


Endoprosthetics is the complete replacement of a damaged joint with a biocompatible analogue.Titanium construction is generally used. The operation allows you to get rid of osteoarthritis even in the 3rd stage. Long-term rehabilitation is performed after endoprosthesis. As a result, it is possible to achieve complete removal of the affected areas and chronic pain, as well as to restore mobility of the shoulder girdle.

Replacement of a damaged shoulder joint with an endoprosthesis

Operation is not always possible. The rehabilitation period is more difficult in the elderly. Other treatment options are used before arthroplasty is prescribed.


Physiotherapy procedures play an important role in getting rid of osteoarthritis of the shoulder girdle. With their help, it is possible to restore normal joint mobility and reduce the severity of pain. The following procedures are performed:

  • electrophoresis;
  • local cryotherapy;
  • magnetotherapy.

In the absence of acute manifestations of the disease (severe pain, limited mobility), physiotherapy can be used. Regular exposure will completely eliminate the anxiety. Any procedure must be performed by a qualified technician.You should consult your doctor before going to the physiotherapy rooms.


Exercise in a simulator for osteoarthritis of the shoulder joint

Kinesitherapy involves the use of active and passive methods to restore shoulder function. If the disease is mild, then the person can begin to use the method of active recovery through exercise. The passive method consists of external influences through massage or mechanical therapy. Kinesitherapy helps to quickly get rid of the manifestations of osteoarthritis of the shoulder joint.

The passive method of healing through mechanotherapy is available to people of any age.

Exercise therapy

Physiotherapy exercises allow you to load the muscles and restore the mobility of the shoulder joint. Mainly static exercises are used. A dynamic load in which active shoulder rotation is performed is undesirable. The following exercises can be done:

  1. Swinging shoulders- You are required to sit in a chair and put your hands on your knees to get the starting position. Relax your shoulders, then start swinging your elbows. At the same time, the hands are on the knees.
  2. Slow rotation- You need to sit in a chair and put your hands on your knees, then slowly begin to rotate your shoulders at short intervals. Circular movements are performed back and forth.

Physiotherapy can be used only during remission, when pain and limited movement are almost completely gone.

Basic exercises for the treatment and rehabilitation of shoulder joint mobility in osteoarthritis


Massage the affected area allows you to achieve the following effects:

  • improve tissue nutrition;
  • eliminate swelling;
  • tone muscles;
  • relieve pain.

It is recommended that all actions be performed by a qualified professional.Strong pressure and sudden movements should be avoided during self-massage.The effect of the massage effect is noticeable within a few weeks after regular use.

Massage should be accompanied by other activities. If a person performs exercises from the exercise therapy complex and visits the massage room, he will get great results.


Mechanical therapy for arthrosis of the shoulder joint for early recovery of muscles and ligaments

Mechanotherapy is a set of exercises performed on special mechanisms. This method allows you to recover as soon as possible. Mechanotherapy is ideal for postoperative rehabilitation. Special mechanisms allow you to adjust the load, allow faster recovery of muscles and ligaments. All actions are performed in stationary conditions. Rehabilitation mechanisms should be taught by an instructor. He will choose the right load and the necessary simulator.

Tightening the joints

The joints are stretched using a special device. The following effects can be achieved with this procedure:

  • improve blood circulation;
  • expand the joint space;
  • relieve tension from the ligaments.

Narrowing of the joint space is one of the main manifestations of osteoarthritis. You can improve the situation with this procedure. The load rate is selected individually. Initially, traction is performed with minimal weights.

Before determining the tightening of the joints should be examined for possible contraindications.

Folk methods

Traditional methods allow you to get rid of pain and speed up the process of cartilage tissue regeneration. The following tools can be applied:

Apply a compress to the shoulder with osteoarthritis to get rid of the pain
  1. Burdock leaves- Fresh burdock leaves are crushed until soft and applied to the affected area for 30-60 minutes. Fixation is carried out with gauze.
  2. Salt compress- 50 g of salt is dissolved in 450 ml of water, then put gauze in the liquid. The bandage is removed, heated and applied to the shoulder for 45 minutes.
  3. Gelatin- Dilute 2 teaspoons of gelatin in 100 ml of warm water, then heat the liquid to a boil. Gelatin is taken orally once a day before meals. Promotes cartilage tissue regeneration

Traditional methods will help to achieve good results in therapy. It is recommended to use them in remission.

Diet for osteoarthritis

With any type of osteoarthritis (shoulder, wrist, ankle), you need to provide your body with all the nutrients for the rapid recovery of cartilage tissue. You should add the following foods to your diet:

  • nuts;
  • bran;
  • gelatinous jelly;
  • buckwheat porridge;
  • eggs.

Nutrition should be balanced. Vitamin supplements can be taken to get essential vitamins and minerals. It is recommended to eat 4-5 times a day. Alcohol and sweets are excluded in the treatment of osteoarthritis. If a person wants to achieve lasting remission, then he must constantly follow the principles of proper nutrition.

Complications and prognosis

The prognosis depends on the age of the person, the degree of damage, the individual characteristics of the organism. At a young age, it is possible to achieve full restoration of cartilage tissue and joint function. You need to follow certain rules for the continuous improvement of the situation in old age. Osteoarthritis of the shoulder responds better to therapy than osteoarthritis of the foot, because the shoulder girdle is easily isolated from stress. This allows for more effective conservative treatment.

Differences between shoulder arthrosis and arthritis

Osteoarthritis and arthritis have the same manifestations, but differ clinically. The main difference is that osteoarthritis is a non-inflammatory disease.In the early stages, the pain in osteoarthritis worries a person only after exercise, and in arthritis it is constant.Arthritis is an inflammatory-degenerative disease. Its treatment is slightly different from osteoarthritis.

Differential diagnostic methods are used to avoid confusion of these diseases. Laboratory and instrumental studies will help determine the presence or absence of inflammation.


Prevention of osteoarthritis consists of eliminating the triggers and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. You must do the following:

  • moderate physical activity;
  • avoid hypothermia;
  • use chondroprotectors;
  • avoid heavy physical work;
  • to reduce body weight to normal.

Preventive measures will help keep joints healthy until old age. Prevention should be carried out with particular care by people over 45 years of age or active in sports.


  1. Osteoarthritis of the shoulder is a degenerative disease in which the cartilage tissue of the joint is gradually destroyed.As a result, the person has pain and limited mobility.
  2. Includes treatment of the diseaseuse of drugs, physiotherapy and training from a complex of physiotherapy exercises.
  3. The prognosis is favorable for complete recovery in the early stages of the disease.
  4. Prevention can significantly reduce the likelihood of osteoarthritis of the shoulder joint.