An Overview of Arthroscopic Shoulder Surgery
Arthroscopic shoulder surgery is one of the most common shoulder surgeries and is the most frequently and widely used procedure in the treatment of shoulder injuries.
Using arthroscopic shoulder surgery techniques, Dr. Peter Millett is able to operate on a joint using only tiny incisions rather than a large one. The small holes that are made allow an arthroscope (telescope with a camera) to enter and provide a clear and accurate view of the joint. This allows the surgical instruments to be accurately placed into the joint and manipulated.
Almost all of the arthroscopic procedures that Dr. Millett performs are done under general anesthesia on an out-patient basis. Since muscles and tendons are not cut there is less post-operative pain, swelling and the patient is able to heal and recover rapidly.
Arthroscopic shoulder surgery is used to treat a variety of injuries and conditions, including:
- AC joint injuries
- Frozen shoulder (stiff shoulder joints)
- Dislocated shoulder and shoulder instability (damaged or torn ligaments)
- Bicep tendon injuries; damaged or torn tendons (rotator cuff or biceps tendon tears)
- Loose bone or cartilage fragments
- Labral and SLAP tears
- Fractures of the shoulder area
Arthroscopic surgery for the shoulder can vary for each condition. Two widely used techniques are associated with the AC joint and a snapping scapula.
Arthroscopic Shoulder Surgery Recovery
Following your arthroscopic shoulder surgery, you will be allowed to do moderate activity, however, there are also some things that we recommend that you NOT do. It is crucial that you understand the healing process and that you participate in your post-operative recovery so that you do not injure or damage the tissues that were repaired during surgery. Below is a checklist of what to expect.
- It is normal to have swelling and discomfort in the shoulder for several days and up to a week following your arthroscopic shoulder surgery. Apply ice bags or use the cryocuff you were given to control swelling. Ice should be applied 20-30 minutes at a time, every hour or so. Use a thin cloth to avoid burning the skin. Icing is most important in the first 48 hours, although many people find that continuing it lessens their post-operative pain.
- If you had a nerve block during arthroscopic shoulder surgery, the local anesthetic may keep your shoulder numb for several hours. You will be given a prescription for pain medication when you are discharged from the hospital. If you do not tolerate it well, call our office and we will try another one. Many patients find that lying down accentuates their discomfort. You might sleep better in a recliner, or propped up in bed.
- In the hours following your arthroscopic shoulder surgery, please keep the post-operative dressing clean and dry. Leave the bandages in place for at least 2 days. REMOVE YOUR BANDAGES 2 days after your surgery. Cover your incisions with Band-Aids to keep from snagging the sutures on clothes. You may shower then, but try to keep the incisions dry for the first 10-14 days.
- The sutures are absorbable and do not need to be removed.
- After your arthroscopic shoulder surgery, we would like to see you back in the office within 10 days. If you don’t have your first post-operative visit scheduled, call our office to make one.
- Start your post-operative rehabilitation/physical therapy right away. Your physical therapy program is key to a successful outcome. It should be started the day after surgery. A separate prescription will outline the protocol.
- Be in the care of a responsible adult.
- Abstain from drinking alcoholic beverages and from smoking.
- You may eat a regular diet, if not nauseated. Drink plenty of non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated fluids.
- Plan to take a few days off work.
Arthroscopic Shoulder Surgery Rehabilitation
Arthroscopic shoulder surgery is a partnership between the doctor and patient. It is important to follow the arthroscopic rehabilitation regime that is set forth by Dr. Millett and your physical therapist. The results of the surgery are most effective when a post-operative rehabilitation program involving physical therapy and shoulder exercises are implemented daily.
We have put together some guidelines for patients who have undergone arthroscopic surgery. These guidelines are broken down into various shoulder rehabilitation phases. Please refer to the Patient Resources section on this website to view a complete and printable version of the rehabilitation program.
For additional resources on arthroscopic shoulder surgery, please contact the orthopedic office of Dr. Peter Millett.