Shoulder arthroscopy is surgery that uses a tiny camera called an arthroscope to examine or repair the tissues inside or around your shoulder joint. The arthroscope is inserted through a small incision around your shoulder.
During your procedure, your surgeon will insert the arthroscope, which is connected to a video monitor in the operating room, into your shoulder through a small incision and inspect the tissues of your shoulder joint and the area above the joint including the cartilage, bones, tendons, and ligaments. He or she will then repair any damaged tissues. To do this, your surgeon will make one to three more small incisions and insert other instruments through them. A tear in a muscle, tendon, or cartilage will be fixed. Damaged tissue may need to be removed.
Shoulder arthroscopy may be recommended for these conditions:
Torn or damaged cartilage ring (labrum) or ligaments
Shoulder instability, where the shoulder joint is loose and slides around too much or becomes dislocated (slips out of the ball and socket joint)
Torn or damaged biceps tendon
Torn rotator cuff
Bone spur or inflammation around the rotator cuff
Inflammation or damaged lining of the joint. Often this is caused by an illness, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Arthritis of the end of the clavicle (collarbone)
Loose tissue need to be removed
Shoulder impingement syndrome, to make more room for the shoulder to move around.
Always tell your physician or nurse what drugs you are taking, even drugs, supplements, or herbs you bought without a prescription. During the two weeks before your surgery you may be asked to stop taking drugs that make it harder for your blood to clot. These include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Naprosyn, Aleve), and other drugs. Ask your physician which drugs you should still take on the day of your surgery.
If you have diabetes, heart disease, or other medical conditions, your surgeon may ask you to see your doctor who treats you for these conditions. Tell your physician if you have been drinking more than one or two drinks of alcohol per day. If you smoke, try to stop. Ask your physician or nurse for help. Smoking can slow down wound and bone healing. Always let your doctor know about any cold, flu, fever, herpes breakout, or other illness you have before your surgery.
On the day of your surgery you will usually be asked not to drink or eat anything for six to 12 hours before the procedure. Be sure to take any medicines your doctor told you to take with a small sip of water. Your physician or physician’s office will tell you when to arrive at the hospital.
Recovery after arthroscopic shoulder surgery can take anywhere from one to six months. You will likely have to wear a sling for the first week. If you had a lot of repair done, you may have to wear the sling longer. Your physician will direct you on medicines to take to control your pain. When you can return to work or play sports will depend on what your surgery involved. It can range from one week to several months.
For many procedures, especially if a repair is performed, physical therapy may help you regain motion and strength in your shoulder. The length of therapy will depend on the repair that was done.