Shoulder arthroscopy is a safe and effective procedure — today’s minimally invasive techniques shorten recovery times and reduce the risk of complications.
Shoulder injuries can be painful and debilitating, and the prospect of undergoing surgery to correct the problem just adds to the stress for many patients. Fortunately, orthopedic surgeons now employ arthroscopic techniques that require smaller incisions, are less painful, and speed up the recovery process. For patients who have not found relief through conservative treatment, arthroscopic surgery is a safe, effective, and relatively quick method to reverse many shoulder impairments.
SHOULDER INJURIES COMMONLY TREATED WITH ARTHROSCOPIC SURGERY
Physical therapy is typically the first line of treatment for most shoulder traumas, but some injuries are severe enough to warrant surgical intervention. These may include:
Rotator Cuff Tear
The rotator cuff in the shoulder is made up of a group of tendons covering the humerus or upper arm bone. When the tendon tears, you’ll feel pain running down the side of your arm. The tear can also limit your range of motion. Many orthopedic specialists begin treatment with icing and physical therapy before deciding if surgery is necessary.
A rupture of the labrum, the rim of cartilage lining the shoulder socket, is called a shoulder labral tear, or SLAP tear. This injury often causes persistent pain, an inability to lift objects overhead, and a popping sensation in the shoulder. The most common therapy is a minimally invasive arthroscopic procedure followed by physical therapy.
When the ball of the shoulder joint is forced out of the socket, the shoulder becomes dislocated. This generally occurs after a traumatic injury that may give the shoulder a contorted appearance. If the injury includes tears to the stabilizing cartilage or ligaments, your orthopedic specialist will likely recommend arthroscopic surgery.
Shoulder impingement, shoulder bursitis, or tendinitis results when a bone spur irritates the tendons in the joint. Repeated overhead motions such as throwing a ball can lead to the development of these painful spurs. While rest and physical therapy can be used to treat many cases of shoulder impingement, more severe injuries require minimally invasive surgery.
THE BENEFITS OF ARTHROSCOPIC SHOULDER SURGERY
During a shoulder arthroscopy, the surgeon cuts two to three small incisions about a quarter-inch in diameter near the joint. Through one incision, the surgeon threads an arthroscope made of optical fibers and lenses to view the internal ligaments and cartilage of the joint. Guided by the tiny camera, the surgeon then mends the damaged joint and tendon.
How extensive the repair is depends on the severity of the injury. In general, this minimally invasive procedure offers several advantages compared to traditional surgical approaches. First, since arthroscopic surgery eliminates the need for deep cuts into the muscles, there is less potential for infection, pain, and other complications. Plus, smaller incisions leave barely visible scars, meaning patients don’t have to worry about a lasting impact on their appearance.
Because it’s a minimally invasive operation, arthroscopic shoulder surgery generally allows patients to return to their normal activities within two weeks. Bandages are removed after two days, but you may be asked to wear a sling for a short period. With a customized physical therapy program, you can expect a full recovery with complete range of motion after several months.
The surgeons at New York Bone & Joint Specialists are experts in minimally invasive procedures, including arthroscopic shoulder surgery. They can help determine whether this procedure is the best option for you. Schedule an appointment today to get started on the road to recovery.