Shoulder arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure aimed at helping doctors diagnose and treat shoulder issues. The surgery involves making small incisions around the shoulder joint through which a small camera known as an arthroscope is inserted. This allows doctors to see the inside of the shoulder joint on a screen. If need be, surgical tools for minimally invasive surgeries can also be inserted into the incisions. These may be then used to repair the damage to the cartilage, tendons, and ligaments in the joint. This type of surgery is often preferred to open surgery as it allows the patient to recover faster while letting doctors get an accurate diagnosis of the patient’s condition.
What Conditions can be Treated with this Procedure?
Shoulder arthroscopy can be used to diagnose and treat a number of conditions such as:
- Degenerated or severely damaged rotator cuffs
- Shoulder joint instability
- Frozen shoulder
- Damaged or torn cartilage and ligaments
- Inflamed bursal material
- Bone spurs around the rotator cuff
- Shoulder impingement syndrome
- Bone debris in the joint
- Loose cartilage
- AC joint arthritis
Types of Repair Procedures
The repair procedures followed during a shoulder arthroscopy depend on the type of damage being repaired.
- To repair a rotator cuff, the ends of the tendons are brought together and attached to the shoulder bones with sutures.
- To treat impingement syndrome, the inflamed or damaged tissue is cleaned and the coracoacromial ligament may need to be cut. Part of the acromion bone may also need to be shaved in AC joint arthritis.
- At the end of the surgery, the incision will be closed with stitches and dressed with a bandage.
Since this is a minimally invasive procedure, the risks are minimized, but there are still a few risks that patients must be aware of. These include:
- Allergic reactions to medication and anesthesia
- Blood clots
- Bleeding at the site of the surgery
- Injury to the nerve or blood vessels in the joint
- Failure to relieve the symptoms
Recovering from a Shoulder Arthroscopy
Recovering from this procedure can take anywhere between 1 and 6 months. During this time, the patient should follow all the care and discharge instructions given by the doctor. For the first week after the surgery, the patient will have to wear a sling. In case the damage is extensive, the sling will have to be worn for longer. In addition, the patient will also need to take pain medication as prescribed by the doctor. You should not change the medication or dosage without consulting your doctor. The patient will also need physical therapy to regain the full use of the shoulder joint. The length of therapy needed depends on the type of surgery conducted.