Shoulder arthroscopy is used to examine and diagnose joint problems in the shoulder. The shoulder is a ball and socket joint and one of the most complex in the body. It is capable of more motion that any other joint. Most discomfort in the shoulder is caused by injury, overuse, or age-related wear and tear.
Shoulder arthroscopy can also be used to treat some conditions affecting the joint that cause pain, including:
- Loose bone fragments
- Damaged or torn cartilage
- Torn ligaments
- Removal of inflamed tissue
- Scarring in the joint
- Removal of bone spurs
Your doctor may recommend non-surgical treatments, such as: rest, physical therapy, and medications that can help reduce pain and inflammation before performing surgery.
What to expect during the procedure
If your doctor feels surgery is needed to diagnose or treat a shoulder problem, arthroscopy may be performed. The procedure will vary from person to person, based on the reason the surgery is being performed, and may be done using local, regional, or general anesthesia.
During the surgery, your doctor will inject fluid into the shoulder to inflate the joint and make it easier to see. Next, your surgeon will make a small incision and insert an arthroscope, a small camera, into the shoulder joint, allowing your doctor to view the inside of the joint on a television screen. Additional instruments can be inserted through separate incisions to repair any problems, if needed.
Recovery after the procedure
Shoulder arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgery, which will lead to a faster recovery compared to traditional, open surgery; however, recovery time will vary from person to person. Pain and inflammation are common after surgery, so your doctor may prescribe medication and R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) to help relieve this pain and inflammation. Your doctor may also give you a sling to wear during recovery and prescribe physical therapy to help build your shoulder muscles and restore range of motion. Rehabilitation is an important part of the recovery process and will help you get back to your daily activities. Your doctor will work with you to determine the best rehabilitation program for you.