Your shoulder’s ability to move in many directions and carry great loads gives your arm stability, mobility, and strength. Because we often use our shoulders, the risk of stress and injury is high. Wear-and-tear injuries as well as diseases may develop and stretch or rupture the shoulder tendons, ligaments, and muscles, causing weakness, instability, and dislocations.
Fortunately, developments in the medical field have resulted in a minimally invasive procedure for your shoulder problem—shoulder arthroscopy.
What Is Shoulder Arthroscopy?
Shoulder arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that allows doctors to diagnose and treat problems inside your shoulder joint. Prior to the development of this procedure, doctors relied on diagnostic tools to diagnose conditions and injuries. If this was not an option, open surgery had to be performed to figure out the problem. Shoulder operations using open surgical methods involve making large incisions, affecting surrounding healthy tissues and structures. Open surgery also involves a longer recovery time, higher risk of infection, larger scars, and more pain for the patient during recovery than involved with arthroscopic procedures.
Shoulder arthroscopy is just as much of a repair procedure as it is a diagnostic tool. Many times, surgeons diagnose and fix problems during arthroscopy. This procedure is usually performed when conservative methods to treat shoulder problems have provided little to no improvement to your symptoms. With this procedure, reconstructing ligaments and removing damaged tissue has become plausible with a quarter to half an inch cuts rather than large incisions required in traditional shoulder procedures.
Some conditions treated with shoulder arthroscopy are instability, impingement syndrome, rotator cuff tears, and fractures.
How Is a Shoulder Arthroscopy Performed?
Arthroscopic surgery is an outpatient procedure that may last for a few hours, depending on whether it is done for diagnosis purposes only or to perform repairs.
Your surgeon may perform the procedure with you lying on your side or in a beach chair position. When you’re settled, they will administer either local or general anesthesia. The surgeon will create marks on your shoulder to identify the structures that make up your joint before making the small incision. The joint space will then be filled with sterile saline to expand the area and allow for better viewing.
After this, the arthroscope—a small tube that has a magnifying lens system, video camera, and light—will be inserted through the incision. If further cutting, probing, or suction is necessary, other tools will also be used during the procedure. These surgical tools are inserted through additional small incisions around the joint, if necessary.
After the diagnosis or treatment, your doctor will close the incision(s) with stitches or sterile adhesive tape. You will then be moved to another room for recovery.
Benefits and Risks of Shoulder Arthroscopy
Generally, shoulder arthroscopy has several benefits that makes it a good alternative to open surgery. It only requires small incisions, decreasing the risk of infection. It also allows for a more comprehensive view of your joint, less postsurgical pain and stiffness, and a shorter period of recovery.
Although safe, it does have minimal and uncommon risks. These include:
- Tissue and nerve damage
- Blood clots
Your doctor will thoroughly discuss the benefits and risks of this procedure with you. You will also be informed of possible complications and how you can avoid them after the procedure.
Shoulder Arthroscopy in Arkansas
Shoulder arthroscopy is a generally safe procedure done to diagnose and treat joint problems in your shoulder. Consult with your doctor to know if you are a candidate for this surgery.
Dr. William Hefley and our team at Bowen Hefley Orthopedics aim to provide you with the quality and patient-centered orthopedic care you deserve. We are committed to diagnosing and treating a wide range of conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system. We have clinics in Little Rock and North Little Rock, Arkansas, that are ready to help you with your orthopedic concerns.
You may reach us at (800) 336-2412 with questions about our services and to find out how we can help you. You may also skip the phone lines and use this secure online form to schedule your visit with us. Let us help you get the best treatment for your shoulder problems!