The shoulder is a complex joint which provides extensive movement to the arm, permitting its day-to-day function and to work and enjoy taking part in sporting activities and more. It is a fact that abnormalities have significant repercussions on our daily lives.
What is shoulder arthroscopy?
It is a procedure performed using a small camera, called an arthroscope, inserted through a small skin incision to examine and repair tissue in or around the shoulder joint.
What conditions can be treated with shoulder arthroscopy?
Arthroscopy can be used to treat the majority of injuries affecting the shoulder joint. The advantage is a much shorter recovery time compared to the more aggressive pen surgery procedure. Surgery is performed under general anaesthetic and lasts between 30 minutes and two hours, depending on the condition to be treated. The most common conditions treated by arthroscopy are:
- • Shoulder Impingement Syndrome, due to an injury caused by excessive use of the shoulder resulting in pain at the front or side of the shoulder. The pain is mostly felt most when raising or lifting the arm out to the side. This is also known as rotator cuff tendonitis or shoulder bursitis, quite common with swimmers and baseball, tennis and volleyball players. It can also affect weightlifters, gymnasts, divers and rowers.
- Acromioclavicular osteoarthritis, is a frequent cause of shoulder pain due to wear and tear of the joint at the top of the shoulder, where the clavicle meets the acromion.
- Rotator cuff tears, the rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons which together form a cuff over the shoulder joint. These muscles and tendons support the arm in its socket and allow movement of the shoulder joint. The tendons can be torn due to injury or overload.
- Shoulder instability occurs when the muscles, tendons, bones and ligaments surrounding the shoulder do not function correctly and do not manage to maintain the head of the humerus within the glenoid fossa. When this happens, the shoulder is described as unstable and the joint may be partially displaced. This is known as shoulder subluxation, or completely displaced, known as shoulder dislocation. It is a very common, but very frustrating, sporting injury.
- Acromioclavicular dislocation is a traumatic injury caused by a tear of the stabilising joint structures: the acromioclavicular and coracoclavicular ligaments and the joint capsule. The acromial end of the clavicle rises to a level above the acromion causing an obvious deformity and the injured arm drops. This injury is typically caused by falls on the shoulder in sports such as cycling or motor sports (bikes). It is also commonly seen on the football pitch.
Are there any risks involved with shoulder arthroscopy?
The risks and complications involved in shoulder arthroscopy can be classified into three sections:
- Anaesthetic: patients are assessed by specialists who decide on the best anaesthetic technique, it is no different from other surgical procedures and the surgery is not a lengthy one.
- Preoperative: the surgeon must have the appropriate knowledge and ability to prevent and solve complications during surgery. • Postoperative: postoperative complications are the same as with any joint surgery. They include infection (uncommon in arthroscopic surgery), joint rigidity and
residual pain. An appropriately prescribed
exercise regime is very important in relation to this last point, the regime starts immediately at the time of discharge from hospital.Recovery from Shoulder
Recovery following shoulder arthroscopy depends on the injury treated and on the patient’s activity level. This is why individual protocols are always developed. The recovery period varies between one to two weeks for surgeries not involving rotatorcuff injuries, and up to two or three months if the rotator cuff has been repaired. It may take 4 to 6 months in the case of athletes practising sports involving throwing, or who take part in contact sports. Once the surgical wound has healed, all patients can perform activities such as eating normally and attending to personal hygiene from 7 to 10 days afterwards, despite having to wear a shoulder immobiliser.
What about scars?
Our orthopaedic shoulder specialist does not use external sutures, the scars are therefore almost invisible. All these conditions can be treated arthrosocopically in our ospital by Dr Marius Negru, orthopaedic and traum surgeon and HC Marbella’s shoulder and elbow specialist.
If you live outside Spain and are considering shoulder surgery, at HC Marbella we take care of every last detail, from organising your journey and accommodation until your return home. We offer a complete package in a restful environment so you can feel safe, calm and relaxed.