What is Shoulder Arthroscopy?

Shoulder arthroscopy is a less invasive surgical procedure that your doctor may recommend to diagnose or treat several issues, including shoulder impingement and rotator cuff tears. Unlike traditional surgery, arthroscopic shoulder surgery West Chester requires smaller incisions, almost the size of a keyhole. Therefore, the procedure is less painful and has a shorter recovery time. The chances of developing an infection are minimal since the incisions are tiny. Your healthcare provider may recommend this procedure if non-surgical methods such as medications and physical therapy prove futile. Below is how you can prepare for shoulder arthroscopy.

Preparing for shoulder arthroscopy

Like any other treatment, you will have an initial discussion with your doctor to understand the procedure. During the consultation, your healthcare provider asks about your medical history, and you may need to provide a list of all medications and supplements you are using. That is necessary since some drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen are blood thinners that put you at risk of bleeding and bruising. Your care team will send you home with instructions, including when to stop eating before surgery.

What does arthroscopic shoulder surgery involve?

The procedure takes approximately less than an hour. For surgery, you may lie on your side or be semi-seated. If you have hair on the skin, your surgical team shaves it before cleaning the treatment area with an antiseptic solution. You may need to place your arm in a holding device to ensure no unnecessary movements as surgery is ongoing. Before making any incisions, the doctor may inject a solution in your shoulder which inflates the joints, making it easier for the surgeon to see.

Next, an anesthesiologist injects a nerve block into your shoulder to ensure you are comfortable during surgery. Your specialist may administer general anesthesia in some cases, making you unconscious during surgery. Once the treatment area is numb, the surgeon will make a small incision that serves as an arthroscope entry. The device has a tiny camera that projects images of your shoulder to a screen, allowing the surgeon to locate any problem. Your surgeon makes other minor cuts to insert miniature instruments for fixing any problem. The incision sites are stitched after the surgeon locates and fixes the problem. You may have small bandages and a larger one to cover all the incisions.

What is recovery like after surgery?

The procedure is usually performed on an outpatient basis, meaning you can return home the same day. However, your care team will monitor you for an hour or two in the hospital before you can leave. You may feel pain as the nerve block wears away, but your healthcare provider may prescribe medications to relieve the pain. Before your shoulder heals, you may need to wear a sling for several weeks or months to protect your shoulder. Later on, when your shoulder is healed, your doctor may recommend a rehabilitation plan which may include gentle exercises to improve the strength and function of your shoulder.

If you have shoulder pain that gets in the way of your daily activities, consult with your specialist at Ronald Hess, MS, DO, to know how you can benefit from shoulder arthroscopy.