Shoulder arthroscopy

Shoulder Arthroscopy

What is it?
Shoulder arthroscopy is a form of minimally invasive surgery. It involves inserting a small telescope (arthroscope) with an in-built light source and a camera into the shoulder joint via a very small incision (keyhole surgery).This allows the surgeon to view the inside of the joint via a television monitor in theatre. Specially-designed instruments are inserted through other small incisions, providing the ability to treat a wide range of conditions that would previously have required major open surgical procedures.
Who needs it?
The commonest conditions that require an arthroscopic assessment and treatment include subacromial impingement, rotator cuff tears, frozen shoulder, shoulder instability or arthritis (wear and tear).

How is it performed?

The procedure is performed under either a general anaesthetic or regional nerve block (where the patient is awake but the arm is numbed with local anaesthetic). Most patients can expect to go home the same day as the operation, occasionally an overnight stay will be required.

The (2-3) small incisions are closed with sutures or steristrips, and a supportive dressing is applied.
Local anaesthetic is injected into the shoulder at the end of the operation which means that there should be little pain for the first few hours. Once this wears off, however, there may be some discomfort for the first few days. Simple painkillers may be required to control this.

How long does it take to recover from shoulder arthroscopy?

The dressings will be removed at 10-14 days. You will often be seen by the physiotherapy team straight after your surgery and an individualised rehabilitation plan with be designed around your requirements. You may not be able to drive for at least 2-4 weeks following surgery.
How much you are allowed to do will be determined by how quickly the shoulder recovers from the surgery, and what the underlying problem was, and how successfully this has been treated. Commonly, it will take between 6-12 weeks to fully recover.

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