Anyone who has ever experienced shoulder pain can attest to how much it interferes with your daily life. It suddenly makes mundane tasks, like brushing your teeth or putting on a shirt, an excruciating chore. An incredible 70% of people will deal with shoulder pain in their lifetime, and it’s especially common in the elderly. In fact, 50% of those ages 55-64 suffer through shoulder pain.
In the not-too-distant past, traditional open surgery was the only surgical option to address shoulder pain. Although typically successful, open surgery involves a long incision and often includes an extended recovery period. Thankfully, it’s no longer the only option. Shoulder arthroscopy can achieve the same results as open surgery with less trauma.
If you’re dealing with shoulder pain, don’t wait to see an orthopedist. Steven E. Nolan, MD, is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon with over 20 years of experience. He has received numerous top-surgeon awards during his career and is a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and a diplomate of the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery.
What is shoulder arthroscopy?
Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure doctors use to look at, diagnose, and treat problems inside a joint. During the procedure, a small pencil-thin camera called an endoscope is used to view and aid in the repair of an injured joint. The camera projects onto a video monitor to give the surgeon a perfect view of their work. Here are the advantages of arthroscopic surgery.
A small incision
The standard incision required for an arthroscopy is about the size of a buttonhole, though multiple incisions may be needed to complete complex procedures. This is compared to open surgery, which typically requires an incision of at least 5 centimeters.
For a shoulder arthroscopy, the incisions are typically made on the front and back of the shoulder joint.
Treats multiple sources of pain
Dr. Nolan uses shoulder arthroscopy to treat pain that has resisted nonsurgical treatment methods. These common procedures may include:
- Rotator cuff repair
- Bone spur removal
- Removal or repair of the labrum
- Repair of ligaments
- Repair of inflamed tissue or loose cartilage
- Repair for recurrent shoulder dislocation
Shoulder arthroscopy can treat mild to moderate injuries. In severe cases, open surgery may be deemed necessary.
Perhaps the best thing about a shoulder arthroscopy procedure is that you get to go home the day of the surgery. Directly after surgery, you’ll spend a couple of hours in a recovery room for observation before being discharged. You’ll need someone to drive you home and spend the night, but otherwise you can recover at home. Most patients experience pain for a few weeks post-surgery, and you might have to wear a sling for the first couple of weeks to protect your shoulder.
Shoulder arthroscopy has all of the traditional benefits that come from minimally invasive surgery. The risk of complications and post-surgical infections is low. Many people are able to return to sports in a few months, and physical therapy may help you regain motion and strength in your shoulder. The most common post-procedure symptoms, shoulder stiffness, can typically be treated with physical therapy as well.
To learn more about shoulder arthroscopy and if you make a good candidate for it, request an appointment online or over the phone with Steven E. Nolan, MD, today.