Shoulder Arthroscopy

Shoulder arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure used to diagnose and treat a range of shoulder conditions. This article will discuss what it is, the conditions it treats, what the procedure involves, and the recovery. Read on to learn more!

Dr. Morris is helping many patients with their shoulder conditions in Lexington, Kentucky. Give the office a call today to see how he can help you.

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Orthopedic Shoulder & Elbow Surgeon located in Lexington, KY

What is Shoulder Arthroscopy?

Shoulder arthroscopy is a procedure performed by orthopedic surgeons to look into your shoulder joint and treat any problems found. The surgeon will insert an arthroscope or a tiny camera inside the joint. An image will display on a video monitor which allows the surgeon to see inside. It also allows the surgeon to guide the minimally invasive surgical instruments to perform any needed repair.

The procedure is minimally invasive, as the instruments enter small incisions. This results in less pain and faster recovery times.

What Conditions Does Arthroscopic Shoulder Surgery Treat?

Arthroscopic surgery can be used to treat several shoulder conditions and injuries, including the following:

  • Arthritis of the shoulder: Arthroscopic surgery can be used to remove damaged cartilage and loose tissue bodies to provide symptom relief for younger patients. This can offer temporary relief. In some cases, shoulder replacement through open surgery may be necessary.
  • Articular cartilage injuries: Articular cartilage regeneration techniques may be used
  • Frozen shoulder: This develops when the shoulder joint capsule thickens and hardens. Small cuts are made in the tissue to release the contractures.
  • Labrum tears: The surgeon may use arthroscopy to repair the tear and remove damaged tissue.
  • Shoulder instability: This may be due to a labrum tear or a loose joint capsule (capsular laxity). Sutures and anchors can be used to rebalance the joint.
  • Rotator cuff conditions:
    • Tendonitis: Debridement or tendon repair can be used to treat tendonitis and some partial tears through arthroscopy.
    • Rotator cuff tears: Rotator cuff surgery can be used to repair a rotator cuff tear. The torn rotator cuff tendon will be anchored onto the bone to promote healing.
    • Shoulder impingement: The acromion may also be thinned arthroscopically to allow more space for an inflamed rotator cuff. A bursectomy may also be performed to relieve symptoms.
    • Calcium deposits: Calcium deposits are removed from the rotator cuff to provide pain relief.

Candidates for Shoulder Arthroscopy

You may need shoulder arthroscopy if your condition is severe or non-surgical treatments have not alleviated symptoms.

The Shoulder Arthroscopy Procedure

A general shoulder arthroscopic procedure will follow these steps:

  1. Before the camera is inserted, your surgeon may inject fluid into the shoulder joint. This allows the surgeons to see the internal structures of the shoulder better.
  2. The arthroscope is then inserted through a small, buttonhole-sized incision. The camera will display the image on a screen for the surgeon to see.
  3. When the issue is identified, your surgeon will make separate incisions to insert the tiny surgical instruments. These instruments are designed for shaving, cutting, grasping, suture passing, and tying. Certain cases may involve the use of specialized devices to anchor stitches into the bone.
  4. After the procedure is finished, your surgeon closes the incisions using either stitches or sterile strips (small Band-Aids). The area will then be protected with a large soft bandage.

What Are the Benefits of Shoulder Arthroscopy?

There are some significant benefits of arthroscopy compared to open shoulder surgery. Arthroscopic procedures have a lower risk of infection and a shorter recovery time. Procedures using arthroscopy usually cause less pain and joint stiffness.

The Risks of Shoulder Arthroscopy

Complications from shoulder arthroscopy are infrequent. However, there is a potential for the following problems:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Blood clots
  • Infection
  • Damage to the nerves
  • Lack of tissue healing despite repair

Recovery From Shoulder Arthroscopy

Shoulder arthroscopy is usually an outpatient procedure, meaning you can return home the same day. After the procedure, you will stay in the recovery room for 1-2 hours. You will then need someone to drive you home.

You will likely have some pain and discomfort for several weeks after surgery. You can relieve pain with an ice pack and pain medication. You may feel more comfortable sleeping in a reclined chair or propped up in bed for a few days rather than sleeping lying flat.

You can replace your bandage a few days after surgery with Band-Aids. You may shower when your wound stops draining. You will likely use a sling for some time after surgery. Your doctor will tell you how long it is needed.

Rehabilitation After Shoulder Arthroscopy

Physical therapy is an important part of your rehabilitation. The exercises will help you strengthen your shoulder and regain range of motion. Your doctor will give you exercises specific to the procedure that you had.

The Outcome of Shoulder Arthroscopy

The outcome of shoulder arthroscopy varies from person to person. Factors depend on your health condition and the surgical procedure you had. Some may not need a sling and will recover quickly. Others may take several months to fully recover.

Despite the small incisions, there could be a lot of extensive damage inside the shoulder joint. For the best outcome, follow closely the advice that your orthopedic surgeon gives you.

Book an Appointment Today

Dr. Brent J. Morris, MD is qualified to perform a wide range of shoulder procedures, including arthroscopic rotator cuff repair. If you are looking for a shoulder specialist near or around Lexington, Kentucky, book an appointment with us today! Dr. Morris is helping many return to the activities they enjoy.

Medically reviewed by Brent J. Morris, MD