Shoulder-Saving Surgeries: Important Things to Know

Posted on May 10, 2012, by

As with the rest of the body, injuries and deformities of the shoulder girdle are preferably remedied with time, pain management, rehabilitation, and orthotics. However, when surgery is necessary, patients will benefit from knowing the facts in order to understand which option best meets their individual needs. The following procedures, from arthroscopic to total shoulder replacement surgery, offer ample choices for patients who require shoulder surgery.

Arthroscopic Surgery

Arthroscopic shoulder repair involves small, clean incisions to target bone spurs, minor tears, impingement, and other ailments of the shoulder. Surgeons use tiny cameras called arthroscopes to guide them through the procedure using the smallest incisions possible. If there is tendon damage, surgeons can accurately isolate and repair the problem, much like with ACL surgery. Arthroscopic surgery is generally considered the least invasive shoulder treatment option but may not be the best choice for all patients.

Rotator Cuff Repair

When any of the four muscles that comprise the rotator cuff become severely damaged, rotator repair should be considered. This procedure involves a slightly larger incision than with arthroscopic surgery, although still less than three inches, to clean and repair the shoulder. First, surgeons will clear out chipped bone and tendon to make room. If there is severe impingement, surgeons will then alleviate pressure on the rotator cuff tendon by shaving down bone. Finally, torn muscle will be sewn together and re-attached to its respective bone.

Total Shoulder Replacement

Undoubtedly the most involved procedure for joint repair, total shoulder replacement targets and replaces the articulating components of the shoulder joint. This is performed much like knee surgery and other joint replacement procedures. In shoulder replacement, surgeons replace either the “ball” (upper humerus), the “socket” (glenoid), or both with prostheses. This procedure most often precedes major injuries and tears to the glenoid or humerus, degenerative bone diseases, extreme rotator cuff tears, and severe fractures. As with any surgery, physical therapy and careful monitoring should follow to promote quicker recovery and reduce the risk of complications.

If you think you’re a good candidate for shoulder, knee or hip surgery, consider a Wisconsin orthopedic surgeon at The Kennedy Center for the Hip and Knee in Oshkosh. Our doctors are board certified with the American Board of Orthopedic Surgeons and are members of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.