Shoulder osteoarthritis: Drug treatments

Shoulder: Drug treatments

Drug treatments commonly used in the manifestations of osteoarthritis are listed below.


There is no specific drug treatment for a joint.


However, the information provided in this section can in no way replace a consultation. Only your doctor is able to prescribe a suitable treatment for your condition, which will effectively relieve your pain.


For more information on classes of drug, simply click on each one of them.

Shoulder: NSAIDs


Anti-inflammatory drugs are useful for reducing or even blocking the inflammation that occurs in osteoarthritis at the time of flare-ups. They are very useful in these cases because there is evidence to show that there is a strong risk of cartilage damage during flare-ups.

The faster this flare-up is brought under control, the more you limit damage to the joint.


There are two types: steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs which are derivatives of cortisone and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs which do not contain any. The former are used in osteoarthritis locally when injected directly into the joint.

There are numerous NSAIDs. Aspirin is one of them when used at a dose greater than 2 grams per day. All NSAIDs can be used in osteoarthritis (except those containing phenylbutazone).

Their use is reserved for treating inflammatory flare-ups of osteoarthritis. They should always be prescribed for a short duration, usually not exceeding 10 days.

There is no NSAID drug that is completely more effective than the others. In fact it is undeniable that there are susceptibilities for each individual which means that a NSAID will be very effective in one person when it will be ineffective in another.



NSAIDs are known to be responsible for digestive disorders and in particular for causing ulcers. It is an undeniable risk, particularly in the elderly and in patients who have already had an ulcer Similarly the use of tobacco or alcohol increases this digestive risk This risk is not related to taking the drug orally, but is the same even if NSAIDs are administered in the form of suppositories or intramuscular injections. However it is possible to manage this risk, because medications that protect the stomach may be associated in people at risk Lastly, you need to keep in mind that the risks are offset by the definite efficacy of these drugs. In addition there are new generation NSAIDs: coxibs. Because of their particular action mechanism, these drugs are as effective as classic NSAIDs but have the advantage of being better tolerated by the stomach.

Other side-effects are possible: allergies, impaired kidney function, coagulation disturbances.

Your doctor is aware of the side-effects of NSAIDs and only he or she is able to judge the need for taking NSAIDs.

Never combine two anti-inflammatory drugs at the same time and tell your doctor if you are taking aspirin: this combination is also contraindicated. Do not decide to take an anti-inflammatory drug by yourself without notifying your doctor.


Your doctor may have prescribed an anti-inflammatory ointment or gel for you to apply to a painful joint. This type of treatment is particularly suitable for small joints such as fingers, for example.


They have the advantage of acting quickly and with very little diffusion into the blood. They are particularly interesting for limiting the side-effects that are sometimes caused by anti-inflammatory drugs, especially for people suffering from stomach problems.