Shoulder arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure, used to fully evaluate and treat structural injuries and chronic conditions of the shoulder joint. Arthroscopic shoulder surgery is the preferred alternative to traditional open surgery.
Our shoulder surgeons, or orthopedic surgeons, at La Peer Health Systems in Beverly Hills are renowned experts in arthroscopic procedures. We formulate individualized treatment plans for patients with a variety of shoulder injuries to provide unparalleled quality of service and care.
How Does Shoulder Arthroscopy Work?
Shoulder arthroscopy allows our surgeons to navigate the inside of the shoulder joint and repair soft tissue or ligament damage with unprecedented precision. Arthroscopic shoulder surgery utilizes a high-tech instrument called an arthroscope. An arthroscope is only a few millimeters in diameter, and consists of a fiber-optic camera with a light attached at the end. The arthroscope provides live video feed from inside the joint that is projected onto a monitor inside the operating room.
During an arthroscopic shoulder procedure, the patient is first placed under general anesthesia. Next, two or three tiny incisions (about a quarter of an inch) are made in the shoulder joint to allow access for surgical instruments. The arthroscope can be slipped through the first incision to inspect the joint while other devices are brought in to repair the damage.
Shoulder arthroscopic surgery typically takes one hour or less to perform, although the length of the procedure will depend on the severity of the patient’s shoulder damage.
Which Shoulder Procedures Are Performed Arthroscopically?
Arthroscopic shoulder surgery is typically used to treat torn or damaged cartilage, perform ligament reconstruction, and to trim damaged tissue that is causing pain. Our Los Angeles shoulder surgeons have unparalleled experience in minimally invasive shoulder surgery and routinely use shoulder arthroscopy to treat the following injuries and chronic conditions:
- AC joint separation
- Biceps Injury
- Degenerative joint disease
- Rotator cuff tears
- Shoulder capsule release
- Shoulder cartilage tears
- Shoulder decompression
- Shoulder dislocation
- Shoulder instability
How to Prepare for Shoulder Arthroscopy
Before your arthroscopic shoulder surgery, tell your doctor about any medications you are taking. You may need to temporarily stop taking them to prepare for your procedure. Blood testing or a chest X-ray may be ordered to ensure you are well enough for the surgery. Any serious health conditions you may have may require additional testing.
Because you will be under general anesthesia during the procedure, you may be asked to avoid consuming any food or liquids besides water after midnight the day before.
Your doctor will tell you about any lifestyle changes you can do in the days and weeks before your surgery to aid in an easier and faster recovery. Things like exercising, cleaning up your diet, and refraining from smoking and drinking excessive alcohol will help your body heal faster.
Arrange to have someone with you at the surgery center to bring you home afterwards. Bring with you a long shirt that buttons up in the front to avoid having to put anything over your head.
Candidates for Shoulder Arthroscopy Surgery
Patients who have any of the following types of shoulder damage and have not found relief from non-surgical solutions are candidates for arthroscopic shoulder surgery:
- Damaged or degenerated rotator cuffs
- Frozen shoulder
- Shoulder instability
- Shoulder cartilage damage
- Bone spurs around the rotator cuff
- Inflammation of the shoulder joint
- Loose cartilage and bone debris
- Torn tendons
- Arthritis at the end of the collarbone
When rest, physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medications have not helped to reduce pain in the shoulder, this minimally invasive surgical procedure can be a highly effective option.
Benefits of Shoulder Arthroscopy
Arthroscopic shoulder surgery is extremely beneficial to patients for a number of reasons. The small incisions, used only to slip in arthroscopic instruments, decrease trauma to connective tissues surrounding the incision. This results in less scarring and less pain after the procedure compared with traditional open shoulder surgery.
Shoulder arthroscopy has a smaller risk of complications and a better success rate than open surgery. Again, by doing less damage to nearby structures there is a smaller chance of post-surgery irritation in the shoulder joint that can cause pain or inhibit recovery.
Perhaps most advantageous, arthroscopic shoulder surgery speeds up recovery times. Minimal incisions reduce the time your body needs to fully heal from the procedure. Thanks to arthroscopy, athletes and people with active lifestyles can return to their normal activities much faster.
What to Expect After Shoulder Arthroscopy
Recovery from shoulder arthroscopy is much faster than that of traditional shoulder surgery, but it may still take a few weeks for your shoulder to completely recover. You can expect some pain and discomfort for a week or more after surgery. Your doctor will likely prescribe pain medication and icing at home to help with swelling.
When resting at home, many patients find that lying down on their back worsens the pain. You may want to plan on sleeping in a recliner or propped up in bed with pillows.
You will leave the hospital with bandages and sutures closing the incisions. Try your best to keep the bandages clean and dry for at least two days after surgery. After a few days, you can replace your bandages with large Band-Aids. You may shower at this time, but try to keep your incisions dry and out of direct water for two weeks, and avoid scrubbing.
Physical therapy will be an important part of your shoulder arthroscopy rehab protocol. Get in touch with a physical therapist either before or right after your surgery to schedule your first appointment. Your surgeon and physical therapist will help you put together the best rehab program for you. Good exercises after shoulder arthroscopy include flexing and pumping your hand and moving your wrists and elbows to keep blood flowing and to prevent stiffness in your arm.
Arthroscopic Shoulder Surgery FAQ
Q: What are the possible complications of shoulder arthroscopy?
A: Though uncommon, complications are possible. Infection is the most common complication, but it can be prevented with antibiotics. Other complications include blood clots, excessive swelling/bleeding, and damage to blood vessels or nerves. Thankfully, such complications occur in less than one percent of all arthroscopic procedures.
Q: What does recovery from shoulder arthroscopy involve?
A: Since shoulder arthroscopy is an outpatient procedure, our patients can return home from our Beverly Hills medical center the same day of surgery. For about the first week after a shoulder arthroscopy, a sling is typically worn to protect the shoulder. Many patients choose to undergo a physical rehabilitation program to restore strength and range-of-motion to the shoulder. Full recovery time depends on the injury and surgical procedure.
Q: How can I manage pain after shoulder arthroscopy?
A: Most patients are prescribed pain relieving and/or anti-inflammatory medications following shoulder arthroscopy. Patients may also use over-the-counter pain relief medications in place of prescription medications for mild pain.
Contact an Orthopedic Surgeon in Beverly Hills
La Peer Health Systems in Beverly Hills boast some of the country’s finest orthopedic surgeons and sports medicine doctors. We utilize the latest and most effective procedures when performing arthroscopic surgeries on the shoulder. To schedule a consultation with one of our talented arthroscopic shoulder surgeons in Beverly Hills, call (855) 360-9119.
Check out ShoulderSurgeryMD, our site dedicated 100% to shoulder surgery procedures, for more information.