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Glenohumeral Joint Pain Treatment: Solutions and Treatment Options

Everyone can experience pain in the glenohumeral joint, also known as the shoulder joint. Shoulder injuries are frequently caused by excessive and repetitive motion such as lifting overhead, house chores, and carrying heavy objects. If left untreated, shoulder pain can make the easiest tasks a hassle.

So are there any solutions to glenohumeral joint pain? We’ve rounded up eight options – from home-based care, medications, to shoulder joint replacement surgery.

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Treatment Options for an Aching Glenohumeral Joint

Whether you’re experiencing a slight tightening sensation or excruciating pain in your shoulder area, you may want to learn some tips on how to manage the pain. If ignored, shoulder pain can make everyday activities much more complicated. Just imagine the act of putting on your t-shirt would take a few minutes longer than usual. 

The following treatment options are based upon the cause, symptoms, and severity of your shoulder’s pain:

1) Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is usually the first non-surgical option that is recommended. It can help whether or not surgery is needed. The physical therapist can help you get back to your regular activities by teaching shoulder strengthening exercises. Physical therapy can likewise be done after surgery to help restore your shoulder’s normal motion.

2) Good Body Posture

There’s a reason why adults always tell you to “Stand up straight”. Poor body posture puts more pressure on your spine and thus instigates pain in the shoulders, neck, and back area.

Proper posture is also vital to your overall health. It improves blood circulation, supports your muscles, and ensures that your bones are aligned with the rest of your body. Not to mention, standing up straight projects self-confidence and affects how others perceive you.

3) Bracing

For some injuries, you may need to immobilize the shoulder to allow healing – one way to do it is by using a shoulder brace. This can be purchased online and at medical supply stores. Make sure to buy the correct brace and size; otherwise, it may do more harm than good.

4) Shoulder Exercises

Shoulder exercises can help you get back to your regular routine and strenuous activities like sports. Not only can stretching exercises prevent injury, but these can also improve your motion range. 

One example of a shoulder exercise is called the “pendulum stretch”. Simply stand up and slightly bend over your body, with your arms hanging down. Swing your arm in little circles. Note that an exercise conditioning program could take four to six weeks. Never overexert your efforts and avoid doing movements that really hurt you.

5) Hot or Cold Compress

You can choose either ice or moist heat – depending on your preference – to reduce inflammation and ease your glenohumeral joint pain. If you opt for the cold route, leave an ice pack over your shoulders for up to 20 minutes at a time. The cold compress should help reduce the swelling and numb the pain.

On the other hand, you can relax tense muscles by applying hot gel pack, hot water bottle or even a heating pad. 

6) Over-The-Counter Medications

For short-term shoulder pain relief, you can resort to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Over-the-counter drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen are the usual medicines of choice. 

You have to be careful with possible side effects though when using medication. Take only the recommended dosage on the product label or your healthcare provider. Overdose could lead to stomach irritation, chronic liver damage, and heartburn.

7) Injections

The most common injection option is corticosteroid which is injected into the joint space of your shoulder. Corticosteroids are also known as steroids that have anti-inflammatory effects that last for only a few months. Expect several injections throughout the year.

8) Shoulder Surgery

As far as shoulder surgery, options can range from palliative procedures, reconstruction and repair, to even joint replacement. These are some common surgical procedures for glenohumeral joint pain:

  • Rotator cuff repair: The doctor identifies the damaged portion of your rotator cuff. Afterwards, they will perform repair work on the torn or injured tendon area.
  • Total shoulder replacement surgery: The natural ball and socket shoulder joint is replaced by an artificial metal ball and plastic socket.
  • Reverse total shoulder replacement surgery: The surgeon reverses the location of the ball and socket.
  • Shoulder arthroscopy debridement: The surgeon makes small incisions in your shoulder, removes loose fragments of damaged cartilage, and file down bone spurs with the assistance of small cameras.
  • Resection arthroplasty: Conditions in the acromioclavicular (AC) joint include fractures and arthritis. In resection arthroplasty, the doctor removes a portion of the collarbone to make space for scar tissues.
  • Arthroscopy for frozen shoulder: During this surgical treatment, the doctor stretches and releases the stiffness in the joint capsule using pencil-sized medical instruments. They may manipulate or force your shoulder to move around.
  • Arthroscopy for impingement syndrome: Impingement syndrome is sometimes referred to as shoulder bursitis or rotator cuff tendinitis. In the arthroscopy procedure, the surgeon aims to increase the space in between your acromion and rotator cuff by virtue of subacromial decompression.

How Shoulder Arthritis Develops

To understand the mechanisms behind glenohumeral (shoulder) arthritis , you have to first be familiar with the shoulder’s basic anatomy. The glenohumeral joint (the ball-and-socket structure of the shoulder) is the part usually affected by shoulder arthritis. The shallow socket is a means for the arm to go through a large range of motion and multiple directions.

The shoulder is one of the most used parts of the human body. Not surprisingly, it’s susceptible to shoulder dislocation and injuries. Shoulder arthritis develops from the wear and wear of the cartilages and thus leads to bones no longer being able to move as smoothly as before.

Most Common Causes of Lasting Shoulder Pain

1) Shoulder Trauma

Whether it be dislocation, fracture, or a severe impact, any potentially shoulder-traumatizing injuries could damage the cartilage.

2) Shoulder Osteoarthritis (Shoulder OA)

This is the most common type of arthritis. The hyaline cartilage frays; synovial fluid levels change; and there is bony irregularity. As the cartilage wears away, the bones beneath it become exposed and start to rub against each other. What starts off as a vague ache or morning joint stiffness can actually lead to the weakening of the glenohumeral joint’s surrounding muscles.

3) Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. This means that your body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own healthy tissues. Should it happen in your shoulder, your defense system is attacking the joint lining, therefore causing it to swell. This eventually affects the cartilage surface.

4) Avascular Necrosis

Avascular necrosis, otherwise known as osteonecrosis, refers to the death of a part of your shoulder’s “ball”. This happens when either trauma or disease cuts off your blood flow to the bone.

5) Rotator Cuff Injuries

Rotator cuff injuries are a common problem among those above 40 years old. The rotator cuff refers to a group of four tendons surrounding your shoulder joint and keeps the “ball” of your upper arm bone in place. When the joint becomes weak – often due to progressive wear and tear of your shoulder’s tendons – it may cause pain during sleep and restrict various shoulder movements. 

You may wonder how tendons fray over time — the tears of the rotator cuff may manifest because of simply everyday activities like cleaning the backyard or perhaps carrying a heavy suitcase. It reaches a point where these tears become so large that the humeral “head” slides out of its normal positions, grinds against other shoulder bones, and thus results in arthritis.

6) Glenohumeral Instability

Moving on to glenohumeral instability, this is simply when the ligaments in the shoulder joint become torn, and the shoulder joint may wholly or partly come out of the socket. Keep in mind that having a history of shoulder dislocations could contribute to glenohumeral joint instability and compromise your ligaments and muscle strength.

7) Adhesive Capsulitis (Frozen Shoulder)

A frozen shoulder occurs when the joint capsule thickens then shrinks around the joint. Aside from glenohumeral joint pain, you will experience restricted mobility and may be unable to make the hitchhiking motion with your arms.

The condition has 3 stages: the painful freezing stage, the frozen stage, and lastly, the thawing stage. But do note that the entire process could last up to two years. Meanwhile, risk factors of adhesive capsulitis include being over 40 years old, recent surgery or injury, and diabetes. Additionally, it’s also more likely to occur in women. 

Signs and Symptoms

Never shrug off shoulder pain — even if you have shoulder arthritis, you’ll feel mild to severe pain, as well as stiffness, in your shoulder area. Certain activities may feel like you need to exert extra effort: reaching overhead, lifting heavy objects, bathing, writing, and playing sports to name a few. If you feel the pain at the side of your shoulder, it most likely involves your glenohumeral joint.

Signs and symptoms of glenohumeral arthritis vary from person to person. Some examples are the following:

  • Pain in your shoulder joint
  • Stiffness and decrease in motion range
  • Grinding, clicking, and/or popping in your shoulders
  • Less sleep due to uncomfortable sleeping position


First rule of business is to perform a physical exam. Your doctor will administer an examination – testing your motion range and strength – as they try to rule out other causes that may involve the spine or the neck. They will ask you about your medical history and assess your current symptoms. They may also order one or more of the following imaging tests:

  • Computed tomography (CT) scan: This is akin to a more detailed X-ray. A CT scan helps detect a shoulder injury and is commonly ordered for surgical planning.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): This presents the surrounding soft tissues of your shoulder joint. It may also be used to see the condition of your rotator cuff.
  • X-rays: Using the power of radiation, a shoulder X-ray shows your healthcare provider the amount of space between your shoulder bones and structures. If there is little space, this means that you have lost cartilage.

How to Prevent Shoulder Pain

Senior man suffering from shoulder pain at rehabilitation center

There are many ways to prevent glenohumeral joint pain. Before anything, pay attention to your shoulder after exerting effort: Is it painful after a while? Does it become sore? Do you feel any clicking sensations? 

Aside from the previously mentioned treatments to shoulder flare-ups, you may opt to do the following to prevent them from ever happening:

  • Listen to your body
  • Warm up before an exercise routine
  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Stay in shape by keeping a healthy diet
  • Safe lift by straightening your back and using your legs
  • Don’t wear a sling bag
  • Gentle strengthening exercises
  • Control blood sugar
  • Practice proper body posture
  • Take regular breaks to move around and stretch
  • Place computer monitor at the correct eye level
  • Find a comfortable sleeping position

When to Call a Doctor

If the pain persists for more than a month, it’s also advisable to call a doctor. Sudden shoulder pain may also be a sign of a heart attack. Call your healthcare provider at the first sign of symptoms. 

Relieve Your Shoulder Pain at aNu Aesthetics

Glenohumeral joint pain won’t get better on its own. Good thing there are numerous treatments available that can help alleviate the pain: physical therapy, good body posture, bracing, medications, and surgery, among others.  

Here at aNu Aesthetics, we take your shoulder pain seriously. Our medical professionals will identify its root cause and help restore your quality of life. Get a joint pain assessment from us today.

Rewind The Clock Both Outside And In

Regenerative therapy has helped countless patients look and feel like the person they were years before. Call us today to book your regenerative therapy consultation.


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