Shoulder surgery is a procedure used to treat an injured, deteriorated, or infected joint. It can also be a therapy for several disorders and illnesses that affect the shoulder joint, like rotator cuff tears, shoulder separations, and shoulder dislocations. This procedure aims to help patients regain pain-free joint mobility and full use of their shoulders.
If your shoulder joint has significantly deteriorated due to an accident or wear and tear, your doctor might suggest replacing it. During this procedure, both surfaces of the ball-and-socket shoulder joint are replaced with artificial components. Repair of rips, fixation of fractures, and excision of bone spurs are some of the other surgical options.
Shoulder surgery is a routine procedure, but it comes with risks and consequences. There may be less intrusive therapy choices available to you, so discuss all options with your doctor before you have shoulder surgery.
The collarbone (clavicle), upper arm bone (humerus), and the shoulder blade (scapula) unite to create your shoulder joint. Ligaments are muscles in your shoulder joint that attach to the bones. The four muscles that make up the rotator cuff surround these bones. Tendons (firm bits of connective tissue) link these muscles to your bones. A bursa sac, joint (synovial) fluid, and layers of cartilage also contribute to the movement and cushioning of your shoulder joint.
The shoulder is one of the body’s most significant and most complicated joints. In most cases of shoulder damage, surgery is necessary to stabilize the shoulder joint. Shoulder surgery may be arthroscopic (small incisions) or open (larger incisions).
Shoulder arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure for diagnosing and treating shoulder issues, like shoulder impingement or rotator cuff injuries. Traditional surgery requires more extensive incisions, while minimally invasive techniques only need smaller incisions – approximately the diameter of a keyhole.
Your surgeon will make a small incision in your skin and insert a camera known as an arthroscope into your shoulder. This camera uses a video screen to display images of your shoulder joint. Your doctor uses these photos to determine the cause of your injury. Then, they will use microscopic surgical equipment to restore your shoulder’s mobility.
The ball-and-socket connection in the shoulder allows for a wide range of motion but at the sacrifice of stability. Repetitive tension in your shoulders during work or sports may result in tears and other injuries. As a result, dislocations of the shoulder joint are more common than any other part of the body.
Some shoulder injuries can be treated at home for a few days with relaxation and ice. Wrap the shoulder and raise it over the heart. More severe injuries need medical attention. Some warning signals to look out for include:
- Being unable to use your shoulder in any way.
- The joint in your shoulder seems to be deformed.
- The pain is unbearable.
- The shoulder has abruptly swelled.
- You have a weak or numb arm or hand.
Causes and Risk Factors
The top of your arm may come out of its socket if your shoulder is pulled back too forcefully or turned too much. In your shoulder, you will have discomfort and weakness. Numbness, swelling, and bruising are all possible side effects.
The joint between your shoulder blade and collarbone is called the acromioclavicular (AC) joint. The ligaments keeping it together can be torn by a fall or a violent impact. If your collarbone is pushed out of position, a hump will form on the tip of your shoulder.
A fall or a heavy strike may cause a bone to shatter or fracture. The humerus and the clavicle (collarbone) are the bones that most frequently break. You’ll be in a lot of pain, and it may bruise. Also, your shoulder may drop, and you may not be able to elevate your arm if your collarbone is fractured.
Rotator cuff tear
The rotator cuff is a combination of tendons and ligaments in your shoulder that let you raise your arm and keep it in place. It may have been injured by excessive usage or a fall. Some indicators include:
- Your shoulder hurts at night.
- It is painful to lift objects.
- When you move your shoulder, you can hear a crackling sound.
Your doctor will begin by doing a physical examination to look for any structural issues and inspect anything that might affect your spine or neck. Next, they’ll do a range-of-motion test to see how flexible your shoulder is, including turning your arms 90 or 180 degrees and lifting them in different directions.
To gain a better look, your doctor may suggest one or more imaging tests:
- X-rays: These assist your doctor in determining if your shoulder pain is triggered by arthritis, bone spurs, or other bone-related issues. Your doctor may also consider an arthrogram, which includes an injection of dye to help more clearly see any damage.
- Arthroscopy: This surgical technique allows your doctor to see high-definition pictures of your shoulder using a tiny fiber-optic camera. In some cases, your doctor may address the problem while the diagnosis is being performed.
Your shoulder surgery will either occur in a hospital or an outpatient facility. Depending on the surgery type, the process and technique may vary. Usually, the treatment options include:
Minimally invasive surgery (Arthroscopy)
Involves making tiny incisions in your shoulder and inserting special equipment like an arthroscope. Compared to open surgery, minimally invasive surgery usually results in a speedier recovery, less discomfort, and fewer risk of complications. There are many benefits to this surgery type because it does less harm to tissues.
Merges minimally invasive arthroscopic methods with a more minor open surgery using current technologies. The incision is one to two inches long, far shorter than a traditional open surgical incision. This surgery type allows a more comprehensive repair than minimally invasive surgery.
Requires a large incision in the shoulder. Your shoulder surgeon will be able to see and reach the surgical area immediately with open surgery. With this surgical type, you will have a longer recovery time and experience more discomfort than minimally invasive surgery.
You’ll need your doctor to bring your shoulder back into position after a dislocation, separation, or fracture. Then, your doctor will place your shoulder in a sling to keep it still while it recovers. Rest, heat/ice, and pain relievers like aspirin or ibuprofen may be recommended by your doctor.
If the swelling and discomfort in your shoulder don’t go away after these treatments, your doctor may give you a corticosteroid (an anti-inflammatory drug) injected directly into the joint. Unfortunately, rest and medication aren’t always enough to help with cartilage tears, rotator cuff injuries, and frozen shoulders. Your doctor may recommend surgery for these injuries. Exercises to stretch and strengthen the joint and increase your range of motion will also be part of your treatment plan.
After surgery, you will be kept in the recovery room until you are awake, breathing normally, and your vital signs are stabilized. If a tube was inserted into your windpipe during surgery, you might have some temporary discomfort in your throat.
If you are recuperating well, you can go home for outpatient treatment on the same day of surgery. An inpatient procedure usually requires a one to two-day stay in the hospital.
The length of your recovery depends on:
- The form of treatment used.
- The kind of anesthetic administered.
- Your overall health.
- Your age.
- And other variables.
After surgery, you’ll most likely need to wear a sling for many weeks. After that, your doctor will recommend you to an exercise rehabilitation program to continue your recovery. It may only take a few weeks or last up to several months to recover fully.
Are you looking for a shoulder specialist near you who specializes in shoulder surgery? Dr. Howard’s expertise includes rotator cuff repairs, shoulder dislocations, fractures, joint replacement, and many more. If you are asking yourself, “Who is the shoulder specialist near me?” Dr. Peter Howard is a clear choice. Contact us today!