Shoulder osteoarthritis

Shoulder osteoarthritis is a chronic condition in which the articular cartilage and adjacent bone tissue break down, wear and tear. If you neglect this disease and do not start treatment in a timely manner, the consequences can be quite catastrophic up to the loss of the motor functions of the hand.

Why does shoulder osteoarthritis develop?

The driving force for the development of shoulder osteoarthritis is inflammation of the joint. It can occur for various reasons:

destruction of the shoulder joint with osteoarthritis
  • Injuries. Osteoarthritis of the shoulder can develop due to a previously experienced shoulder injury or permanent, minor microtrauma of the shoulder, characteristic of athletes.
  • Vascular disease. In vascular pathologies, blood circulation is usually impaired, leading to insufficient articular blood supply. As a result, the joint tissues undergo dystrophic changes, i. e. osteoarthritis develops.
  • Excessive load. This is often due to the work activities of patients (movers, builders).
  • Hormonal or autoimmune disorders. They often significantly affect the articular tissue and exert a destructive effect on them. These are diseases such as psoriasis, arthritis, etc.
  • Heredity. It has been proven that children of parents with shoulder osteoarthritis are more likely to develop an articular defect than others. This also includes people who have already been born with any joint defects. Both they and others perceive the usual strain on their hands as excessive and therefore the process of cartilage wear is much faster.
  • Disorders of metabolic processes, the endocrine system. Because of this, salts begin to accumulate in the joints, and the cartilage tissues cease to receive proper nutrition (phosphorus, calcium, etc. ), and begin to deteriorate.
  • Diseases of the joints. A prerequisite for the development of osteoarthritis may be such joint pathologies as arthritis, bone necrosis, synovitis, etc.
  • Age. Elderly people (50 and over) are particularly vulnerable because the joint tissues wear out with age, which in itself already leads to the development of pathology.

Signs of shoulder osteoarthritis

Long-term development is characteristic of osteoarthritis, sometimes in the initial stages it does not manifest itself in any way. Therefore, the slightest symptomatic manifestations should be treated very carefully. Shoulder osteoarthritis is usually indicated by:

  1. Pain is considered the main symptom of the disease. Pain sensations often bother patients in the morning. Pain syndromes are also more possible with a sharp change in the weather. If you expose the sore shoulder to any load, for example lifting something heavy, then the pain will also remind itself. The patient becomes painful even when he feels the shoulder. With the development of osteoarthritis of the shoulder, pain begins to occur even in a calm position. It is necessary to take into account this fact - with osteoarthritis of the shoulder joint, pain can not only occur in the affected joint, they can be localized in the arm, elbow or back.
  2. Motor dysfunction. Due to the pain, it becomes difficult for the patient to cope with seemingly simple tasks, such as combing. By the way, this action is one of the test movements for diagnosing osteoarthritis. Rotational movements and an attempt to take the hand back are also difficult. If you do not start treatment in time, then gradually the shoulder joint and consequently the hand completely stops moving, contracture develops.
  3. Painful crunch, creaking in the joint. It usually occurs due to salts (osteophytes) deposited in the diseased joint. To begin with, there is a faint, as if squeaking rattle in the diseased joint, with the course of the disease it becomes clear crisp clicks, audible even at a certain distance from the patient.
  4. Swelling, increased general temperature and at the site of the affected joint, redness. These signs confirm the presence of inflammation in the diseased joint.
  5. Curing of the joint. This symptom occurs when the disease is neglected due to the bone growth covering the joint.

You should not postpone the trip to the clinic if you suddenly began to be bothered by pain in the shoulder, especially after his injury or sprain. In fact, in the later stages osteoarthritis is practically not susceptible to treatment. Please note that some patients may not show any signs of the disease at all.

Symptoms of shoulder osteoarthritis depending on the stage of the disease:

  1. The first degree of shoulder osteoarthritis is characterized by morning, evening pain. The patient must "develop" the joint before it can move without stiffness. A sharp movement of the shoulder or hand is accompanied by a light, still painless crunching sound. At rest, no pain syndrome is observed. On X-ray examination, there are no specific changes in the joint.
  2. Shoulder osteoarthritis in the second stage is accompanied by more intense pain, a clear crunch. The range of possible hand movements is reduced, but the joint is still movable. The joint has already begun to collapse and deform.
  3. The third degree is a severely advanced stage of the disease. Patients can only shake their hand slightly, the sharp pain constantly presses them. The joint itself becomes severely inflamed and deformed. There is even partial atrophy of the muscles around the shoulder joint. The joint can only be healed by surgery. Osteoarthritis rarely develops at this stage. It only occurs in patients who do not take care of the affected joint and expose it to unbearable overload.
  4. Fourth degree - absolute destruction of the joint and bone fusion. Pain syndrome is not relieved even by strong painkillers. This stage is found mainly in elderly patients.

Shoulder osteoarthritis treatment

Medical treatment of shoulder osteoarthritis is primarily aimed at destroying the source of the inflammatory process and pain syndrome. Usually, your doctor will prescribe NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). They primarily stop inflammation and relieve pain.

Doctors often use corticosteroids for severe inflammation. These are anti-inflammatory drugs used for joint blockage. This procedure is an injection injected into the joint itself. This method is a non-invasive treatment method, that is, it does not damage the skin or mucous membranes. As a rule, it involves the use of ointments, gels, creams, etc.

Prescribed for osteoarthritis of the shoulder and chondroprotectors - drugs that can restore damaged cartilage, based on hyaluronic acid, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate.

In addition to medication, exercise therapy, sanatorium treatment, massage and physiotherapy are also used. The latter include ultrasound treatments, laser therapy, mud therapy, cryotherapy and magnetotherapy. Recently, the treatment of osteoarthritis using leeches (hirudotherapy) has become quite popular due to its effectiveness. Therapeutic and gymnastic exercises, without overloading the joint, stimulate the muscles to the necessary extent, as a result of which the joint is developed and restored.

In addition, the patient is prescribed a therapeutic diet based on the rejection of too spicy and salty foods. Doctors advise eating more collagenous foods: turkey, seafood, herbs and salmon.

In cases where osteoarthritis of the shoulder has led to complete destruction of the articular cartilage, a surgical operation called arthroplasty is performed, in which a ceramic, plastic or metal prosthesis is implanted in place of the affected joint.

Traditional medicine has also been shown to be effective in combating shoulder osteoarthritis.

Folk remedies are usually effective as a complementary pain relief. Remember that they are not able to repair the shoulder joint that is affected by osteoarthritis. This requires medical treatment under the guidance of a physician.


Boil oatmeal (30 g) in two glasses of water for about 10 minutes. Soak a piece of gauze folded in several layers with the resulting solution and apply on sore spots for at least half an hour.

Cabbage juice compress has proven to be a good painkiller. It is usually done every night, leaving it on the sore joint until the morning.

You can simply apply honey-smeared cabbage leaves on the affected joint at night.


Elecampane roots (50 g) insist on vodka (125 ml) for a few weeks. The mixture should be rubbed with sore joints.

Angelica roots (15 g) insist half an hour, pour boiling water over them. The filtered solution should be rubbed into the affected area 3-5 times a day.

Herbal baths

Various herbal decoctions and infusions can be added to a bath filled with water. Knowledgeable people notice the special effect of baths with decoction of mustard, hay dust, mint, burdock. Such baths should be taken before steaming the body thoroughly, and then, after rubbing the joints, the patient should lie down, covered with a warm blanket, so that the body retains heat longer.


In ordinary Vaseline, add 15 g of sweet clover, hops and St. John's wort. The resulting mixture should be rubbed regularly into the joint area.