Shoulder arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgery commonly performed by doctors to further find out about and treat shoulder pain.
Why would I need a shoulder arthroscopy?
You might need a shoulder arthroscopy if you are experiencing shoulder pain or reduced shoulder movement. It may be that you have a suggested diagnosis that your doctor wants to confirm or that your condition has not improved with non-surgical treatments. Non-surgical treatments include rest, physiotherapy, and medications or injections.
Most shoulder problems are caused by injury, overuse and age-related wear and tear. They may damage your rotator cuff tendons, articular and labrum cartilage, and other soft tissues surrounding the shoulder joint.
Shoulder arthroscopy aims to better understand and relieve painful symptoms of shoulder problems.
Common arthroscopic procedures include:
- Rotator cuff repair – for rotator cuff tears caused by injury or wear and tear
- Repair of shoulder tissues – such as ligaments and tendons to prevent shoulder instability. This includes recurrent shoulder dislocation and subluxation when your arm bone completely or partially slips out of your shoulder socket.
- Removal of inflamed tissue, bone spurs or loose cartilage that contribute to shoulder symptoms
- Repair of cartilage – caused by wear and tear arthritis
Is shoulder arthroscopy major surgery
No shoulder arthroscopy is not major surgery. Arthroscopy of the shoulder is a minimally invasive procedure, often performed on an outpatient basis. It is generally seen to be a safe and routine procedure. Shoulder arthroscopy is carried out through very small incisions using special instruments including an arthroscope. This allows your surgeon to see inside your shoulder joint. They can then repair or remove damaged tissue that is causing shoulder pain. Using less invasive surgery means that many shoulder disorders can be treated successfully. It also results in a faster recovery with less pain and better mobility than open surgery.
How do you sleep after having a shoulder arthroscopy?
We understand that sleeping after a shoulder arthroscopy can be problematic and a lack of sleep affects your daily life. To help you sleep better after your operation and to support quick and correct healing, here are some sleeping tips:
- Sleep in a reclined position use a reclining armchair or pillows that raise your body to a 45-degree angle. Sleeping flat on your back is an uncomfortable position. It also puts pressure on your shoulder and strain when you try to get up.
- Wear your sling when you sleep - to stop you from unintentionally moving into an uncomfortable or even damaging position. It also reduces pressure on your shoulder area.
- Take medication just before going to bed – plan your medication so that you take it 30 minutes before you want to go to sleep. This allows your pain relief to work most effectively in helping you to rest throughout the night.
How long does it take to fully recover?
The time it takes to fully recover after your shoulder arthroscopy will depend on a number of things. These include the extent of your shoulder problem and surgery given, your level of physical fitness beforehand, and how well you keep to your physiotherapists and/or surgeons advice. You can expect to go home the same day as your surgery. You will need someone to drive you home and stay with you for at least the first night if you have a general anaesthetic. If you have a regional local anaesthetic, the effects will wear off sooner. One of our experienced physiotherapists will give you tailored advice to follow after your arthroscopy. They may recommend an exercise program to help you regain shoulder strength and motion and support a faster recovery. Most people return to work relatively quickly, often after a week. This will depend on your job type. If your job involves lifting or carrying you may need more time off work. It can take up to three months to get back to your normal activities after shoulder arthroscopy. Most people regain full movement of their shoulder after this surgery.
What can you not do after shoulder arthroscopy?
After shoulder arthroscopy, you should try to remain patient, follow any post-operative instructions and allow time to regain mobility in your shoulder. There are a few things you should not do for the first few weeks after this surgery in order to support your recovery. These include:
- Avoid lifting anything heavier than a plate or glass.
- Do not reach behind your back with your operated-on shoulder.
- Avoid pushing or pulling with your shoulder.
- Do not use your arm for repeated movements such as vacuuming or using a computer.