You may need shoulder arthroscopy surgery if you are experiencing shoulder pain, limited motion, instability, or stiffness. Surgery is usually recommended when you have failed nonsurgical treatments such as physical therapy, medications, or injections.
Injury, overuse, and age-related wear and tear are responsible for most shoulder problems. Shoulder arthroscopy is an option that may relieve painful symptoms that damage soft tissues surrounding the shoulder joint.
Shoulder arthroscopy surgery involves the doctor making a few small incisions around the shoulder, after using general anesthesia, to put you to sleep. Using an eye piece the doctor can see the inner tissues and surrounding bone of your shoulder on a television monitor. During surgery the doctor can inspect, diagnose, and repair problems in your shoulder.
This procedure will take approximately 1-1 ½ hours for the doctor to perform. You will wake up in the recovery room with a bulky shoulder dressing, an IV, and a shoulder sling in place. Once you are awake, taking fluids, and are in stable condition the IV will be removed and you will be able to go home.
You should be examined by your family doctor to ensure you are healthy enough for the planned surgery. You are encouraged to stop smoking before surgery to prevent lung complications or delayed healing. Pre-admission testing (lab work, EKG, chest x-ray) may be scheduled prior to your surgery. Medications such as anti-inflammatory medications, aspirin, and blood thinning medications should be stopped one week before surgery unless otherwise specified by your family doctor.
You will find comfort in relaxing in a recliner type chair to support your shoulder joint during rest or during sleeping hours. Getting up and walking is encouraged to speed your recovery.
You can expect pain and discomfort for at least a week after surgery. Apply ice to your shoulder and take pain medication as prescribed to help with your pain control. You may remove your shoulder dressing 48 hours after your surgery. Your sling may be discontinued at the discretion of your surgeon.
Blood clots: Symptoms of a blood clot include pain, swelling, or redness of your arm, calf or thigh. Call the office immediately if you develop any of these symptoms or go to the emergency room. If you develop sudden shortness of breath go to the emergency room or call 911.
Infection: Infection is rare but can occur following surgery. Symptoms include fever or chills, drainage, redness, a foul smell or increased pain at incision sites. You are at higher risk for infection if you have diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic liver or kidney disease, or are taking long term steroids.
Nerve damage: Damage to your surrounding shoulder nerves is rare but can occur. Notify your doctor if numbness or tingling around the shoulder is prolonged or worsens following surgery.
Anesthesia complications: Respiratory failure, shock, cardiac arrest, and death are always possible during surgery. Patients with long-term kidney, heart, or liver disease are at a higher risk. Nausea and vomiting from the anesthesia are common. Coughing and deep breathing as well as drinking fluids will help flush out the anesthesia gases.
Bleeding inside the joint: Trauma to arteries or veins surrounding the shoulder is rare, but may occur. It is common for some bruising and discoloration to appear around the shoulder and down the arm following surgery. Bright bloody drainage from your incision sites is not common and the doctor should be notified.
The average recovery period for shoulder arthroscopy surgery is 2-4 weeks depending on the specific type of procedure performed. Most patients are back to work within a week if the job is sedentary and longer if the job is labor-intensive. Walking is encouraged to promote your strength during your recovery time.
Showering is permitted 48 hours after surgery. Soap and water may be applied to incision site area. Do not scrub or soak these incision sites or apply any lotions, ointments, or Neosporin. Pat dry incision sites following the shower and keep sites open to air.
Please perform the following exercises 6 times/day for 2 minutes each.
Stir the paint: Remove your sling and stand at a counter or table top. Bend forward and let your surgical arm dangle. Slowly move your arm in a circular motion as if you were stirring a can of paint. Repeat exercise going the opposite direction.
Handshake: Remove your sling and keep your elbow tucked in at your side. Move your surgical arm outward until you reach 90 degrees or a handshake position. Do not go over 90 degrees or move your elbow away from the side of your body.
Wall walkers: Remove your sling and stand facing the wall. Take your surgical arm and use your fingertips to crawl up the wall as high as you can reach.