Shoulder Arthroscopy

The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the human body. It consists of a complex arrangement of structures working together to provide the movement necessary for daily life. Four bones and a network of soft tissue structures (ligaments, tendons, and muscles) work together to produce shoulder movement. They interact to keep the joint in place while it moves through extreme ranges of motion. Each of these structures makes an important contribution to shoulder movement and stability. Certain work or sports activities can put great demands upon the shoulder, and injury can occur when the limits of movement are exceeded and/or the individual structures are overloaded. Arthroscopic shoulder surgery is performed through small incisions using a camera to visualize the inside of the joint. 

Shoulder Replacement

Shoulder replacement involves removing the arteritic ball and replacing it with a metal component.  The socket may or may not be replaced with a plastic component.  The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the human body. It consists of a complex arrangement of structures working together to provide the movement necessary for daily life


What conditions can be treated with arthroscopic shoulder surgery? 

Rotator Cuff Tears
When the tissue inside or around your shoulder joint becomes damaged, shoulder arthroscopy surgery, also known as rotator cuff surgery, is used to examine and/or repair the tissue of an injured shoulder or torn rotator cuff. Usually surgery is recommended in the following circumstances: 

  • The rotator cuff was torn as the result of an acute injury, accident, dislocation, or fracture, and was healthy beforehand.
  • The torn rotator cuff results from chronic degeneration (wear and tear) and does not respond to medication, physical therapy, and other nonsurgical treatments.
  • Ongoing pain or weakness in the injured shoulder interferes with a person's ability to perform tasks.

More information about rotator cuff tears can be found here.

Labral Tears
Labral tears are commonly treated with arthroscopy. The labrum is a disk of cartilage on the glenoid, or "socket" side of the shoulder joint. The labrum helps stabilize the joint and acts as a "bumper" to limit excessive motion of the humerus, the "ball" side of the shoulder joint. A very common labral injury is a tear that occurs on the top of the labrum, extending from the front to the back of the cartilage. This is known as a SLAP tear ("SLAP" is an acronym for superior labral anterior to posterior tear). SLAP tears commonly occur from a fall on an outstretched arm, a forceful lifting maneuver or repetitive throwing.

More information about shoulder instability, labral tears and slap lesions can be found here.

Impingement Syndrome
Patients with impingement syndrome ( a pinching of the soft tissues, that is not cured with conservative treatments may consider a procedure called an arthroscopic subacromial decompression. This procedure removes the inflamed bursa (small fluid-like sacs located underneath a tendon) and some bone from the irritated area around the rotator cuff tendons. By removing this tissue, more space is created for the tendons and the inflammation often subsides.

More information about impingement syndrome here.

Biceps Tendonitis
The biceps tendon can become irritated and inflamed as an isolated problem or in association with problems such as impingement syndrome and rotator cuff tears. When the biceps tendon is damaged and causing pain, a procedure called a biceps tenodesis can be performed. This procedure usually causes no functional difference, but often relieves symptoms.

More information about biceps tendonitis here.

AC Joint Arthritis
The AC joint, or acromioclavicular joint, is occasionally affected by arthritis. When arthritis of the AC joint is severe, the end of the clavicle (collarbone) can be removed. By removing the damaged joint, the symptoms of AC arthritis are often relieved.

More information about ac joint arthritis here.

What is the recovery from shoulder arthroscopy?
The recovery depends on what type of surgery is performed. One of the problems with shoulder arthroscopy is that the procedure hurts much less than open shoulder surgery, and therefore patients may tend to do too much, too soon. It is very important that you only perform activities that your surgeon recommends following a shoulder arthroscopy. Even though your shoulder may feel fine, you need to allow time for repaired tissues to adequately heal. This is especially important for patients who have rotator cuff repairs and labral repairs.