The shoulder is a “ball-and-socket” joint made up of the upper arm bone (humerus), shoulder blade (scapula) and collarbone (clavicle). This joint is the most flexible one in the body and allows for a full range of motion, but also makes the shoulder a common source of injury and instability.
Some of the most common shoulder conditions include:
While many of these conditions can be effective managed through nonsurgical techniques, surgery is often needed to thoroughly correct the condition and allow patients to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle.
The rotator cuff is a group of tendons and muscles that support the shoulder joint and allow for complete movement while keeping the ball of the arm bone in the shoulder socket. These tendons and muscles may become torn or otherwise damaged from injury or overuse and can lead to pain, weakness and inflammation. Surgery is often needed to treat this serious condition.
Rotator cuff surgery may be performed laparoscopically or through an open procedure, depending on the type and severity of the condition. Both procedures are performed under general anesthesia and aim to reattach the tendon back to the arm, along with removing any loose fragments from the shoulder area.
A labrum is a protective cuff of cartilage found in the shoulder that provides stability, cushioning and a full range of motion. A tear in the labrum, known as a labral tear, is caused by injury or overuse and can lead to pain and “catching” of the joint while moving. While many labral tears can be treated by managing pain symptoms and undergoing physical therapy, some cases require surgical treatment.
Labral repair aims to repair unstable shoulders with staples, anchors or sutures. It is usually performed using arthroscopy, which allows the surgeon to view the tear through a small camera and perform the procedure through tiny incisions. Larger tears may require an open procedure.
The shoulder can often become dislocated or slip partially out of the joint, a condition known as subluxation. This often develops as a result of a traumatic injury that may stretch or tear ligaments in the shoulder, and may cause it to become unstable. Patients with an unstable shoulder often avoid participating in sports or other activities they would otherwise enjoy.
Shoulder stabilization can be performed through an arthroscopic procedure that may involve reattaching loose or torn ligaments to the joint with the use of special implants called suture anchors. These anchors are used to relocate and tighten injured structures, and then disintegrate over time. Depending on the individual patient’s joint stability, shoulder stabilization surgery can also repair tears of the biceps muscle tendon, a damaged rotator cuff, or tighten the shoulder capsule.
Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure that can be used to treat many shoulder conditions by inserting a fiber-optic device and tiny surgical instruments into small incisions. Patients can benefit from less tissue damage, shorter recovery times and less scarring with arthroscopic techniques. This procedure can also be used for diagnostic purposes after a physical examination and other imaging procedures have been performed.
Also known as shoulder scope, arthroscopy can be used to treat rotator cuff tears, labral tears, impingement, biceps tendonitis and AC joint arthritis. The type of repair performed depends on each patient’s individual condition, but often involves removing inflamed tissue, reattaching torn tissue or replacing damaged cartilage. The incisions are closed with sutures and usually heal well.
Severe shoulder conditions with persistent symptoms that have not responded well to conservative treatments may benefit from shoulder replacement surgery. Shoulder replacement surgery replaces the damaged joint with an artificial one that allows patients to enjoy painless motion and resume their regular activities.
During the shoulder replacement procedure, the damaged bone and cartilage are replaced with a metal and plastic implant that helps relieve pain, stiffness and swelling, while improving range of motion and allowing patients to resume their regular activities.