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What are the alternatives to shoulder arthroscopy?

Not everyone who has a problem with their shoulder will need to have an arthroscopy. Your doctor will usually be able to diagnose your shoulder problem by examining you. You may also need to have some imaging tests, such as an X-ray, an ultrasound or an MRI scan.

The best treatment for your shoulder problem will depend on what’s caused the damage. Sometimes, your symptoms will improve on their own without treatment. Your doctor may suggest you try some self-help measures, such as doing exercises to strengthen the muscles around your shoulder. Other treatments for shoulder problems include physiotherapy and corticosteroid injections. Talk to your doctor about which treatment options are the right ones for you.

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Recovery from shoulder arthroscopy

The recovery from shoulder arthroscopy depends on the procedure done. Post minor procedures like Sub-acromion decompression and biceps tenotomy, the recovery is rapid and return to full shoulder function takes a few weeks. Post rotator cuff repair the pain relief is rapid, and patients can join back to work in a matter of weeks , however full functional recovery may take up to six months.

Arthroscopy is a procedure that orthopaedic surgeons use to inspect, diagnose, and repair problems inside a joint. The word arthroscopy comes from two Greek words, “arthro” (joint) and “skopein” (to look). The term literally means “to look within the joint.” During shoulder arthroscopy, your surgeon inserts a small camera, called an arthroscope, into your shoulder joint. The camera displays pictures on a television screen, and your surgeon uses these images to guide miniature surgical instruments.

Because the arthroscope and surgical instruments are thin, your surgeon can use very small incisions (cuts), rather than the larger incision needed for standard, open surgery. This results in less pain for patients, and shortens the time it takes to recover and return to favorite activities.

Shoulder arthroscopy has been performed since the 1970s. It has made diagnosis, treatment, and recovery from surgery easier and faster than was once thought possible. Improvements to shoulder arthroscopy occur every year as new instruments and techniques are developed.

What happens during shoulder arthroscopy?

The length of your procedure will depend on how much work your surgeon needs to do inside your shoulder joint. You may have the surgery sitting in a deckchair position or lying on your side.

Once the anaesthetic has taken effect, your surgeon will make small cuts in the skin around your shoulder joint. They will then insert the arthroscope. This is like a tiny camera that your surgeon can use to view inside your shoulder joint.

Your surgeon will first inject fluid into the shoulder to inflate the joint. This makes it easier to see all the structures of your shoulder through the arthroscope. Then your surgeon will make a small puncture in your shoulder (about the size of a buttonhole) for the arthroscope. Fluid flows through the arthroscope to keep the view clear and control any bleeding.

Arthroscopy is a procedure that orthopaedic surgeons use to inspect, diagnose, and repair problems inside a joint. The word arthroscopy comes from two Greek words, “arthro” (joint) and “skopein” (to look). The term literally means “to look within the joint.” During shoulder arthroscopy, your surgeon inserts a small camera, called an arthroscope, into your shoulder joint. The camera displays pictures on a television screen, and your surgeon uses these images to guide miniature surgical instruments.

Because the arthroscope and surgical instruments are thin, your surgeon can use very small incisions (cuts), rather than the larger incision needed for standard, open surgery. This results in less pain for patients, and shortens the time it takes to recover and return to favorite activities.

Shoulder arthroscopy has been performed since the 1970s. It has made diagnosis, treatment, and recovery from surgery easier and faster than was once thought possible. Improvements to shoulder arthroscopy occur every year as new instruments and techniques are developed.

Images from the arthroscope are projected on the video screen showing your surgeon the inside of your shoulder and any damage. Your surgeon will examine your shoulder joint by looking at images sent by the arthroscope to a monitor. If there’s any damage in your shoulder, they will insert surgical instruments to repair it. Your surgeon will also remove any damaged tissue that stops you moving your shoulder properly and causes pain.

Afterwards, your surgeon will close the cuts with stitches or adhesive strips. They will then wrap a dressing and a bandage around your shoulder.

It’s possible that your surgeon may need to change to open surgery during the procedure. This might be if they need to make a larger cut to repair a larger muscle tear. Your surgeon will talk to you about this eventuality before you consent to the procedure.The advantages of an arthroscopic approach include less surgical morbidity, less postoperative pain, the reduced cost of an outpatient setting, improved cosmesis and an easier, if not shorter, rehabilitation. Younger patients and even contact athletes are suitable candidates for arthroscopic stabilization procedures. However, there are circumstances in which an open stabilization procedure might be preferable to the arthroscopic approach, namely those with significant glenoid and/or humeral head bone loss and those with compromised inferior glenohumeral ligament quality.