Arthroscopic treatment allows surgeons a full view of the shoulder without having to cut through muscles. This minimally invasive approach is performed on an outpatient basis and offers numerous benefits including less muscle and tissue trauma, less bleeding, less pain and a much faster recovery. Patients usually go home the same day.

Anatomy

The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint made up of three bones: the humerus (upper arm bone), scapula (shoulder blade) and clavicle (collarbone). The bones are covered with articular cartilage for smooth, pain-free motion of the joint. The muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder provide stability and support. All of these structures allow the shoulder to rotate through a greater range of motion than any other joint in the body.

When is surgery recommended?

Some shoulder conditions always require surgery to fix. Other shoulder conditions can be treated with conservative treatments such as rest, physical therapy, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), ice, and cortison shots. If those conservative treatments don't work surgery may be needed.

For rotator cuff tendonitis, surgery is used if conservative treatment doesn't fix the pain and swelling.

While most shoulder dislocations do not require surgery, if the injury is severe and has damaged nerves and tissues around the shoulder joint, your doctor may recommend arthroscopic surgery. Likewise, if you have recurring dislocations (a condition known as shoulder instability), surgery may be necessary to tighten the tendons surrounding the joint. 

What is the recovery time?

Shoulder arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure and patients usually go home the same day. Depending on the reason for the surgery, patients may need to wear a sling for several weeks to keep the shoulder immobilized. Physical therapy usually starts immediately and is tailored for your condition and your activities. As with all surgical procedures, specific recovery time varies by patient and demand.