Shoulder arthrosis: causes, symptoms and treatment

Compared with arthrosis of the hip or knees, classic arthrosis of the shoulder joint is quite rare, but the symptoms of this disease can cause severe discomfort to the patient, so it requires mandatory full treatment. Shoulder arthrosis (omarthrosis) is most often diagnosed in patients over the age of fifty. Its development is associated with a deterioration in the quality of cartilage tissue, which covers the surfaces of the joints. Cartilage plays the role of a shock absorber, it is thanks to it that the individual components of the bone inside the shoulder joint optimally slide. With thinning of the cartilage and violation of its integrity, the bones in the joint begin to contact each other. This is a painful process that leads to limited joint mobility. The progression of the disease causes the formation of osteophytes - an abnormal growth of bone tissue along the edges of the shoulder joint.

Causes of the development of arthrosis of the shoulder joint

In the vast majority of cases, arthrosis of the shoulder joint develops with age due to the natural wear and tear of the joint. After all, such a part of the body is a rather complex structure, if it is regularly subjected to serious stress, the likelihood of pathological changes increases.

There are cases when arthrosis of the shoulder joint occurred in younger people. A similar situation is possible if the cartilage tissues were damaged in an accident (unsuccessful fall, accident, etc. ). If a person does not receive proper treatment after an injury, the cartilage is not properly exploited and this can lead to arthrosis.

Sometimes the loss of cartilage tissue in the shoulder joint is the result of systemic diseases, for example, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.


doctor examining a patient with shoulder arthrosis

There are several typical symptoms of osteoarthritis of the shoulder joint. Among them:

  • soreness in the shoulder, especially when starting to move;
  • morning stiffness, as well as restriction of movement after prolonged "inactivity";
  • crackling, clicking, or rubbing sensation in the shoulder joint when moving;
  • limitation of mobility of the shoulder joint, which is progressive.

Sometimes painful sensations in arthrosis of the shoulder joint occur only after a prolonged load on this area. The intensity of the symptoms of the disease, as well as their combination with each other, may differ in different patients. However, pain usually remains a stable symptom of the disease.

If you ignore the unpleasant symptoms, the hand will hurt even more - the disease will progress. The articular cavity will narrow to a minimum, the inflammatory process will begin. In such a situation, the patient will be disturbed by more obvious symptoms of malaise:

  • swelling of the joint;
  • severe continuous pain;
  • forced restriction of movements (up to complete immobility of the joint).

The long course of the disease can lead to atrophy of muscle mass due to the refusal of habitual activities. In such a situation, only surgery can help to cope with the disease.


Unfortunately, cartilage wear is an irreversible process. If arthrosis of the shoulder joint is at an early stage of development, the symptoms are transient and mild, a patient with arthrosis of the shoulder joint is recommended conservative treatment aimed at restoring the functions of the joint. Typically, therapy includes:

  • limitation of activity and cooling of the joint until inflammation is eliminated;
  • the use of NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to relieve pain and inflammation;
  • the use of hormonal preparations for intraarticular administration (if the above means do not give the expected effect).

After the suppression of the inflammatory process, the treatment of arthrosis usually includes:

  • massages;
  • regular gymnastics (physiotherapy exercises);
  • physiotherapeutic procedures (shock wave therapy, laser therapy, myostimulation, phonophoresis, ozone therapy, etc. ).

It is also customary for patients with arthrosis of the shoulder joint to prescribe drugs that are designed to stimulate the restoration of cartilage tissues. These are chondroprotective drugs.

Modern methods of conservative treatment of arthrosis of the shoulder joint

kinesio taping of the shoulder joint for arthrosis

For the treatment of destructive processes in the cartilage joint, doctors can use several new techniques.

Autoplasma therapy

With this intervention, the patient is injected with his own platelet-rich plasma. It is believed that those growth factors that are present in platelets are able to stimulate the activity of fibroblasts - the production of collagen, hyaluronic acid and elastin. Thanks to this process, a new intercellular matrix is built and small blood vessels grow, and this, in turn, helps to restore metabolism, activate local immunity, improve microcirculation and normalize tissue respiration. According to doctors, autoplasma therapy makes it possible to start the full-fledged work of the synovial membrane of the joint, reduce the severity of pain and increase the range of motion in the joint.

Intra-articular injections of hyaluronic acid

The effectiveness of hyaluronic acid of non-animal origin in omarthrosis is only being studied by world scientists. In 2019, an article by American specialists (Department of Orthopedic Surgery, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Phoenix, AZ, USA) was published, which described the results of a preliminary study of the effectiveness of this procedure. It has been established that hyaluronic acid is able to reduce the severity of pain for more than six months and increase the range of motion of the affected joint.

When not to do without surgery?

If conservative treatment of arthrosis of the shoulder joint does not give the expected result, and the symptoms of the disease significantly impair the patient's quality of life, doctors may suggest surgery to restore the activity of the affected area. To date, arthroplasty, the installation of an artificial joint (bioprosthesis), can cope with this task. This is a relatively new type of surgical intervention that allows you to completely eliminate the problem of arthrosis: restore the function of the joint and the entire upper limb, neutralize painful sensations, and maintain working capacity as much as possible.