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The Facts About Shoulder Arthroscopy

  • Nov 18 2013

Post by Dr. Salvatore J. Corso

Your shoulder is an important part of your body. It helps to move your arm, so that you can perform tasks such as lifting, writing and more. The shoulder is made up of many important parts, including three different bones (humerus-upper bone, scapula- shoulder blade; the clavicle- collar bone; and the sternum), ball-and-socket-joints (sternoclavicular joint, glenohumeral joint and the acromioclavicular joint), cartilage, membranes (bursa) and muscles, including the rotator cuff. Since the shoulder is made up of various parts, issues such as torn cartilage rings, rotator cuffs, and bone spurs can arise and affect its performance.

Orthopedic surgeons can diagnose and treat many different shoulder conditions with arthroscopy, which allows patients to benefit from less tissue damage, shorter recovery times, less scarring and less post-operative pain. This technique also avoids cutting any muscles or tendons in order to gain access to the affected area. After the issue is thoroughly checked, via diagnostic tests and imaging, and it is determined that surgery is necessary, shoulder arthroscopy may be an attractive option as opposed to traditional surgery.

During a shoulder arthroscopy, your doctor will insert an arthroscope, a tiny camera, into your shoulder to properly assess the joint and all areas above it including the ligaments, tendons, bones and cartilage. If there is any damaged tissue, the doctor may need to remove it, whereas with torn muscles, tendons, or cartilages, small instruments will be utilized.

To specifically repair a rotator cuff that is torn, your doctor will attempt to reattach the tendon to the bone. The tendon is reattached with sutures, which are then connected to small rivets in the bone. These rivets are usually made up of metals or dissolvable materials and do not need to be removed.

After the procedure, your doctor will advise you to wear a sling. The sling or immobilizer will help keep the shoulder from performing any harsh movements that would prevent it from healing.  The length of time the sling is needed varies with the procedure performed, although most Orthopaedic’s ask their patients to wear it for at least one week. The recovery time also differs among the patients and their conditions but the average is anywhere from one to six months.  If a repair was performed, physical therapy may be required to restore complete movement to the shoulder, thus extending the recovery time.

Although arthroscopy provides relief for shoulder issues, it may not be applicable for your situation. Certain shoulders conditions may call for traditional surgery. Your doctor will determine the best procedure for your condition.

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Posted in: Neck/Back & Shoulder