How It Works and When It’s a Viable Treatment Option
Your shoulder is one of the most-used and complex joints in your body. When you suffered a shoulder injury, or have shoulder pain that doesn’t respond to medication or physical therapy, you may need to consider surgical options. If possible, have the procedure done arthroscopically, as that process is minimally invasive, with a significantly shorter recovery period.
What Is Arthroscopy?
Arthroscopy involves the use of a tiny camera mounted on a probe or scope. Your surgeon makes a minor incision (about the size of a button hole for shoulder arthroscopy) to allow the insertion of the scope into the shoulder area. The camera carries a high-powered light, allowing for the projection of clear images on a computer screen. The surgeon can then see the nature and extent of any damage inside your shoulder and will use specialized tools, also inserted through the small incision, to operate on bones, tendons, ligaments, muscles, and cartilage.
An arthroscopic procedure may be done under general or regional anesthesia. Shoulder arthroscopy typically is performed with the patient either in a semi-seated position or lying down. The surgeon injects a clear sterile fluid into the area where the surgery will be performed, enlarging the operating space and allowing a better view of any injuries or damage. After the repairs are made and all surgical tools removed, the incision is closed with stitches or a bandage.
Conditions Typically Treated with Shoulder Arthroscopy
Arthroscopic surgery in and around the shoulder can be effective for a wide range of diagnoses:
- Shoulder instability
- Frozen shoulder/stiffness in the shoulder joint
- Arthritis around the ball-and-socket joint or in the collarbone
- Rotator-cuff injuries
- Biceps/triceps tears or ruptures
- Cartilage or ligament injury/damage
- Bone spurs in and around the shoulder joint
The Advantages of Shoulder Arthroscopy Over Open Surgery
Because an arthroscopic procedure is minimally invasive, there’s a dramatically reduced risk of scar tissue, which often causes the long-term pain associated with surgery. Any hospital stay will be shorter. In many situations, arthroscopic surgery can be performed on an outpatient basis. Though you’re still likely to need physical therapy, your recovery time should be far less and the likelihood of full recovery much greater.