The shoulder joint has a small contact area between head of the humerus and the socket of the shoulder that allows movements in all directions. The head of the humerus is guided in the socket by a broad muscle-tendon sheath and is protected from wear by cartilage and joint liquid, which is produced by the inner layer of the joint. In a slow process caused by monotonous movements, overloads, or lack of movement (often caused by chronic muscle hardening over years) the bones finally make direct contact. This results in wear of head of the humerus, the socket and painful inflammation.
Compared to arthrosis of hip or knees, a classic arthrosis of the shoulder is rare. What we see most often are changes in the structures around the joint. This can be fissures or calcifications in the muscle-tendon sheath, causing inflammatory changes in the bursa between the bony roof and the muscle-tendon sheath. This is called a joint encompassing arthrosis. Changes of this type are often chronic.
The use of pain medication or cortisone are only indicated in acute situations. A continued use of medication can have significant side effects and should always be replaced with topical treatments like warmth or ice, salve, massages or other treatments described by the doctor.
Patients should attempt to maintain the function of the joint by special movements and avoid repetitive loading. Warmth, swimming, isometric training exercise and techniques for relaxation help.