Injuries such as a torn rotator cuff, shoulder impingement, or even arthritis can cause constant pain, inflammation, and reduced mobility. The idea of invasive surgery can be pretty intimidating. However, Shoulder Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive diagnostic and surgical procedure for shoulder joint issues.
Arthroscopy (a term that at its Greek origin translates as “to look within the joint”) is a process that orthopedic surgeons use to inspect, diagnose, and treat problems within a joint. Since the arthroscope (a small camera) and surgical instruments used in this procedure are very thin, our team can use small incisions to access the shoulder joint.
Patients often see this as a welcome change from the larger incisions needed for a typical open surgery. The team at Summit Orthopedic Specialists understand how shoulder injuries can impact your ability to live life on your terms and at your speed and pride themselves on being their California patients’ shoulder arthroscopy surgeons. Let us be your shoulder to lean on.
Shoulder arthroscopy has been in practice for almost 50 years, allowing the diagnosis, treatment, and recovery from surgery more straightforward and faster than anyone previously thought it could be.
As a minimally invasive diagnostic and surgical procedure performed for shoulder joint problems, it is performed using an instrument the size of a pencil, called an arthroscope. This arthroscope consists of a light system and a camera that projects images of your surgical site onto a screen so that your surgeons can view the treatment areas. Your orthopedic surgeon will make tiny 5mm incisions, just large enough for the instruments to be inserted under the skin, allowing your doctor to view your joints and perform the necessary work on your shoulder’s connective tissue.
Because of its minimally invasive nature, recovery times are minimized as well – smaller incisions and more tolerable techniques allow for same-day surgery.
In the communities where arthroscopic rotator cuff repair is involved, many patients and surgeons note that they experience the same, or even better, results than those achieved via open surgery. Less pain and an increased mobility factor after an arthroscopic procedure make shoulder arthroscopy an ideal option.
Any number of issues can cause shoulder pains – injuries sustained, overuse, or simply age-related wear and tear. Sometimes these issues cause inflammation, which is entirely normal for the body (inflammation is one of the body’s reactions to injury and disease), resulting in swelling, pain, and stiffness.
However, when dealing with shoulder pain that does not respond to nonsurgical treatments, such as rest, physical therapy, injections, or medications, shoulder arthroscopy may be necessary. This process may relieve painful symptoms of many problems that damage the rotator cuff tendons, labrum, articular cartilage, or other soft tissues around the joint.
You are likely an ideal candidate for shoulder arthroscopy if you have the following issues:
Before scheduling the procedure, our doctors will review your complete medical history, perform a physical examination (including X-rays), an electrocardiogram, and likely involve meeting with a physical therapist to discuss the rehabilitation process after the surgery.
Shoulder arthroscopy surgery is performed as an outpatient procedure, meaning you will not have to stay overnight at a hospital. The procedure itself often takes between one to two hours, but because every person’s body is unique, the length of the surgery may depend on what our surgeons find and depends on what repairs may be needed. You will be administered anesthesia, body hair removed (if necessary), skin is cleaned with an antiseptic solution.
After covering your arm and shoulder with sterile drapes, your forearm is placed in a holding device to ensure your arm stays still. Fluid may be injected to inflate the shoulder joint, allowing the structures of your shoulder to be seen through the arthroscope. At this point, the surgeon will make a small puncture in your shoulder for the arthroscope. Fluid continues to flow through the arthroscope to keep the view clear and control any bleeding. Your surgeon will be able to see your shoulder and any existing damage from the perspective of the arthroscope shown on their video screen. Once they identify the problem, they can then insert the necessary specialized instruments to shave, cut, grasp, tie knots, or pass sutures through separate incisions. After your procedure, the incisions will be closed with stitches or steri-strips, and then cover this area with a large, soft bandage.
The recovery process for shoulder arthroscopy is much shorter than one would experience through open surgery, like total shoulder replacement surgery.
However, it can still take several weeks to months to fully recover. There will be some pain and discomfort for several weeks after surgery, though ice will help relieve some of the pain and swelling – medication may also be prescribed. While lying flat will not affect how your shoulder heals, many patients remark that the pull on the shoulder causes some discomfort.
Most report that it is notably more comfortable to sleep in a reclining chair or propped up in bed during the first days after surgery. Within a few days after surgery, you can replace your large bandage with smaller Band-Aids, and once your wounds are no longer draining, you can shower again. It is important to avoid soaking or scrubbing your incision areas, however.
The best results will come from actively participating in your physical therapy after your procedure and throughout the healing process.
Compared to a large incision or open surgery, shoulder arthroscopy carries other advantages, such as less pain, fewer complications, no hospital stay, and faster recovery. The team at Summit Orthopedic Specialists will be able to recommend exercises that will help you increase muscle strength and physical fitness without risking injury to your shoulder.
When you are a patient of Summit Orthopedic Specialists, you will have access to some of the region’s most skilled orthopedic surgeons and other specialists. Schedule your shoulder Arthroscopy consultation so that we can work together towards getting you back to living your adventures.
6620 Coyle Avenue, Suite 303, Carmichael, CA 95608
In-office arthroscopy. Robotic-assisted surgeries. Versatile non-surgical alternatives. At Summit Orthopedic Specialists, we offer our patients in Sacramento orthopedic surgery and solutions at the leading edge of the industry. Learn how peak care leads to peak performance with a consultation today.