Thanks to continued advancements in the medical field, many people can experience lasting relief from shoulder pain with minimally invasive shoulder surgery. While not every issue or injury to your shoulder will require surgery, advances in minimally invasive techniques will help you recover faster and with fewer complications than in previous years. Orthopedic surgeons offer a wide range of treatment options for shoulder pain and injuries, and you can talk to your Atlanta orthopedist more about whether you would be a good candidate for minimally invasive shoulder surgery. From treating sports injuries to joint replacements, shoulder surgery may give you the best chance for a full recovery and the ability to return to your regular routines and activities. Check out this overview on why you may need shoulder surgery, including examples of shoulder injuries and what to expect with minimally invasive shoulder surgery.
Reasons You May Need Shoulder Surgery
Shoulder pain is a common reason people visit their orthopedic doctor each year. Whether you just started noticing the pain or it has been getting worse over time, an orthopedic doctor can help determine the cause. In some cases, your doctor may recommend home remedies or non-invasive treatment options to relieve your shoulder pain. However, certain shoulder injuries and issues may require shoulder surgery to fully address your pain and other symptoms. Here are three reasons why you may need shoulder surgery.
A sudden injury to your shoulder joint can cause you to feel weak and lose your typical range of motion. Shoulder injuries can occur suddenly in a car accident, while playing sports, or from a slip and fall. Moderate to severe pain and other symptoms may indicate that you would benefit from surgery to address the sudden shoulder injury. If the shoulder joint’s structure becomes damaged due to the injury, then surgery may be the best option to restore healthy functioning to the joint.
An unstable joint means your shoulder may pop in and out with simple, everyday movements. The shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint where the top of the humerus, or upper arm bone, should fit snugly inside the shoulder blade socket. An unstable shoulder joint may become a recurring problem that requires a surgical operation to address the problem. Surgery to correct shoulder instability can help reduce your risk for recurrent shoulder dislocations.
Ongoing pain lasting more than 6 months may be categorized as chronic pain. People develop chronic pain for many reasons, from a health condition like arthritis to an old injury that did not heal correctly. When chronic pain affects your ability to go about your daily routines or participate in activities you love, your Atlanta orthopedic doctor can help. If less invasive treatment options do not resolve your chronic shoulder pain, your doctor may talk to you about your options for minimally invasive shoulder surgery.
7 Shoulder Injuries That May Need Surgery
Did you know that your shoulders are actually the most flexible joints in your body? Your arms depend on the shoulders’ healthy functioning for movement and daily activities. The shoulder joint is composed of bones, cartilage, muscles, tendons, and ligaments that all work together to support movement and mobility. Injury to any one of these moving parts can significantly impact the healthy functioning of your shoulders and arms. Here are seven examples of shoulder injuries and when surgery may be the best option for a full recovery.
Torn Rotator Cuff
A torn rotator cuff is perhaps the most common shoulder injury. The rotator cuff refers to a group of muscles and tendons that support your shoulder joint. When you lift your arms, you engage the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff also helps support the shoulder joint by keeping the ball of the upper arm bone in its shoulder blade socket. Wear and tear can cause a torn rotator cuff, and so can a sudden accident or fall. There are two types of rotator cuff tears: partial and complete. A partial rotator cuff tear occurs when the tendon tears but is still somewhat attached to the arm bone. The tendon will completely separate from the bone with a complete rotator cuff tear. Without treatment, a torn rotator cuff injury could lead to chronic pain and issues with mobility. A rotator cuff tear will not heal on its own without rotator cuff repair.
Frozen shoulder is the second most common shoulder injury after a torn rotator cuff. Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, refers to a condition that causes the capsule surrounding your shoulder joint to tighten and contract. When this tissue contracts, it can prevent the shoulder from moving freely, and you will feel stiffness and pain in and around the affected shoulder. Frozen shoulder typically develops gradually over time and can occur when a medical procedure or condition requires immobilization of your shoulder and arm joint. There are three stages of frozen shoulder: the freezing stage, frozen stage, and thawing stage. Pain from frozen shoulder may get worse at night or with certain movements and activities. If your frozen shoulder does not get better within a year or so, your orthopedic doctor may recommend more invasive treatment options to address your persistent symptoms.
A shoulder dislocation occurs when the ball at the top of the upper arm bone comes out of its socket. Shoulder dislocations commonly occur in athletes or with people who have shoulder instability. A shoulder dislocation can occur from a sudden fall or sports-related injury. The most common type of shoulder dislocation is called anterior dislocation, which occurs when the top of the humerus dislocates into a forward position in front of your shoulder blade. A shoulder dislocation can be visible to the naked eye and may look like your shoulder joint is deformed. In many cases, a shoulder dislocation will require a doctor to put the joint back into place. A dislocated shoulder might heal with less invasive treatment or require surgery to repair any nearby damage caused by the dislocation.
Because the shoulders allow for such a wide range of motion, the shoulder joints are not as stable as other joints in the body. Shoulder instability can put you at greater risk for shoulder injuries like a dislocated shoulder. If you have experienced a dislocated shoulder in the past, then you are at greater risk for shoulder dislocations in the future because it can cause instability in the shoulder joint. Chronic shoulder instability can cause surrounding supportive tissues to become loose or torn, making it easier for the ball of the upper arm bone to slip around in the shoulder blade socket. If you have never experienced a dislocated shoulder before, then you may have what is known as hyperlaxity, or an increased looseness in the tissues that support your shoulders. Loose ligaments can occur as part of your normal anatomy or because of repeated movements and overuse.
Another issue with the rotator cuff can lead to what is called impingement syndrome. The rotator cuff includes tendons and muscles that help you raise and rotate your arms, and it is between the acromion and humerus bones. Sometimes, the small space between these two bones can cause the rotator cuff to become pinched or impinged between the bones, causing impingement syndrome. An irritation or injury to the rotator cuff can cause swelling and inflammation, which reduces the amount of space available between the acromion and humerus bones. This can cause the rotator cuff tissues to rub against bone, which leads to pain and more swelling. In some cases, a surgical procedure called shoulder arthroscopy will remove part of the bone and make more room for the rotator cuff.
All joints in the body rely on cartilage for cushioning and support. Cartilage helps prevent the bones in your shoulder joint from rubbing together, and one type of cartilage in the shoulder joint is called labrum. This tough, rigid cartilage develops on the ends of ball and socket joints to provide greater stability and absorb shock. A SLAP tear is a tear in the labrum that supports your shoulder joint. SLAP tears can occur from sudden injuries or from overuse and repetitive movements. SLAP tears also commonly affect people aged 40 and older. Your orthopedic doctor may recommend minimally invasive shoulder surgery to repair the labrum in your shoulder.
Arthritis in the shoulder joints can cause inflammation, pain, and stiffness. Moderate to severe pain with shoulder arthritis can make certain movements uncomfortable. Over time, people with shoulder arthritis may notice a decreased range of motion. If left untreated, arthritis in the shoulder can lead to joint deformity and permanent damage to nearby soft tissues and nerves. Arthritis does not go away on its own, but many treatment options can help manage your symptoms and reduce damage to the joints. For cases of severe arthritis, shoulder replacement surgery may be necessary to replace the ball and socket joint with artificial parts.
What to Expect with a Shoulder Surgery
Shoulder arthroscopy is the most common type of minimally invasive shoulder surgery. Your surgeon will create very small incisions where they can insert a tiny camera and surgical tools to examine and repair any damaged tissues in and around the shoulder joint. You will receive general anesthesia for shoulder surgery, which means you will be asleep for the procedure and not feel any pain. In some cases, your surgeon may be able to perform a minimally invasive shoulder surgery with regional anesthesia, which numbs your arm and shoulder area, so you do not feel any pain. During the procedure, the surgeon will insert an arthroscope through one of the small incisions and inspect the shoulder joint and nearby areas. They will use the tiny camera to look at cartilage, bones, ligaments, and tendons in the shoulder joint. Up to 3 additional small incisions around the shoulder can allow the surgeon access to the area to repair any damaged tissues. Your doctor may recommend shoulder arthroscopy for shoulder injuries and issues like rotator cuff repair, impingement syndrome, and shoulder instability. Even shoulder replacement can now be completed using minimally invasive surgical procedures, which helps speed up your recovery process.
Recovering from Minimally Invasive Shoulder Surgery
It can take weeks or months for the shoulder joint to completely heal from a minimally invasive shoulder surgery like shoulder arthroscopy. Pain and swelling can occur for a few weeks after the initial surgery. Your Atlanta orthopedic surgeon will recommend ways to effectively rehabilitate and when you will be able to return to your everyday routines and activities. Icing the area and taking anti-inflammatory pain medications can help reduce pain and swelling in the days following the procedure. Rehabilitation and recovery from shoulder surgery will typically include physical therapy, where you will learn gentle stretches and exercises to improve your strength and range of motion.
At AICA Orthopedics in Atlanta, our team of doctors includes orthopedic surgeons and physical therapists, all located in one convenient location near you. You can visit AICA Orthopedics to learn about all your options for shoulder pain and whether you would be a good candidate for minimally invasive shoulder surgery. We also offer diagnostic imaging tests like X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs in-house, so you can get the scans you need for your doctor to make an accurate diagnosis and determination for treatment. Instead of going all over town for what you need, you can go to AICA Orthopedics and meet with your surgeon and physical therapist in one place. We will provide you with a detailed and individualized treatment plan so you learn about all your options and determine whether shoulder surgery is right for you!