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Shoulder Arthroscopy

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What Is Shoulder Arthroscopy?

When chronic shoulder pain and disability affects your well-being, it may be time to consider shoulder surgery. Minimally invasive arthroscopic shoulder surgery can be performed to address a wide range of shoulder conditions, often with less downtime, pain, and scarring than traditional open surgery. This innovative technique utilizes a special type of camera that projects the internal images onto a screen, which the physician can use as a guide. As a result, our top orthopaedic surgeons typically can repair the problem using small incisions rather than one large one. While not all types of concerns can be addressed with an arthroscopic approach, issues like infection, inflammation, injuries, osteoarthritis, cysts, bone chips, tendon and muscle tears, and cartilage fragments can often be evaluated, diagnosed, and potentially even treated with arthroscopic shoulder surgery. During your initial consultation, one of our orthopaedic surgeons can discuss this option with you in the event non-surgical methods have proven ineffective.

Benefits of Shoulder Arthroscopy

Shoulder arthroscopy offers a number of advantages compared with traditional open surgery, which is why it’s often the preferred technique to use. Some of the benefits of this procedure include:

  • Achieve a more accurate diagnosis
  • Repair damage more quickly and efficiently
  • Less damage to surrounding tissues
  • Minimize post-surgical pain and recovery
  • Reduce the length of hospital stays
  • Minimize scarring

Every patient’s needs and goals are unique, so determining whether arthroscopic shoulder surgery is right for you requires a thorough evaluation and a discussion of your individual concerns. We can help guide you towards the optimal technique during your initial consultation.

What Happens During Shoulder Arthroscopic Surgery?

The shoulder joint is a complex system of bones, muscles, tendons, and other tissues. This joint is the most dynamic in all of the body, with greater range of motion than any other joint. It is made up of three bones, the humerus (upper arm), scapula (shoulder), and clavicle (collarbone). The ball and socket joint of the shoulder is held in place by four rotator cuff tendons that connect to four muscles; there are ligaments and cartilage material that also help secure the shoulder.

During the arthroscopic procedure, you may be in a seated position or lying flat on your side to provide your surgeon with the easiest access to the affected area. One incision will be made to allow the arthroscope camera to view the treatment area and one or more smaller incisions will be made where the other instruments will be used. Depending on the nature of your concern, a number of techniques may then be performed to diagnose and/or repair the issue.

Recovery from Shoulder Arthroscopic Surgery

Most patients are able to return home the same day as the operation, although you should be driven home and a friend or family member should stay with you the first night after surgery. We will provide prescription medication to make your experience as comfortable as possible, and some minor discomfort is to be expected. Pain typically subsides after a week or two, depending on the extent of your procedure. Your shoulder will be in a sling, and possibly an immobilizer, to protect the joint and limit movement for the first several weeks. These can be removed once you have healed sufficiently. Physical therapy is an important part of the rehabilitation process, and you will be asked to perform certain stretches and exercises to develop strength and mobility. How quickly you can return to work and other normal activities, as well as to engage in more vigorous exercise, will depend on your condition, the type of surgery performed, and your recovery progress. Everyone heals at a unique rate, and it’s important to listen to your body and not overtax it.

Learn more about arthroscopic shoulder surgery by speaking with one of our extensively trained orthopaedic surgeons. Contact our practice today to schedule a consultation.