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Shoulder arthroscopy: what it is, when it’s needed and postoperative recovery

Shoulder arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure used not only to diagnose shoulder problems but also for potential therapeutic treatments. During the procedure, the surgeon inserts a tiny camera, called an arthroscope, into the shoulder through a small incision.

With the arthroscope, the surgeon can visualize the inside of the joint on a screen and guide miniature surgical instruments.

Shoulder arthroscopy is used to treat various conditions, including rotator cuff injuries, labral tears, shoulder instability, osteoarthritis, and bursitis.

When it comes to chronic instability, common symptoms to consider are recurrent dislocations (complete displacement of the humeral head from its socket), subluxations (partial displacement of the humeral head), and a persistent feeling of loose shoulder, which means it cannot remain in place due to alterations in bone development, periarticular tissues, or both.

The shoulder’s poor stability is due to its conformation, making it the most mobile of the joints, enjoying full range of motion in all three directions in space. However, such mobility means lower stability, which is solely entrusted to soft structures: joint capsule, glenoid labrum, ligaments, and muscles with their respective tendons.

Shoulder problems can have traumatic causes (e.g., direct or indirect fall on the shoulder, sudden violent movement, dislocation, etc.) or degenerative causes such as progressive wear of the shoulder tendons associated with aging or repetitive overhead activities with lifting heavy loads for an extended period.

Various risk factors include advanced age, female gender, sports activities (especially throwing and contact sports), and clinical conditions such as diabetes, obesity, previous traumas.

When to resort to surgical intervention

Initially, chronic shoulder instability does not require arthroscopic surgery. Initial indications are to modify activities or habits that have led to these symptoms and proceed with physiotherapy sessions, consisting of strengthening the shoulder muscles and improving joint movement control.

Only if these interventions are ineffective is surgery considered. Repairing the injured or elongated ligaments surgically is often necessary to maintain the shoulder in place.

Advantages of arthroscopy and postoperative recovery

Both for chronic shoulder instability and rotator cuff injury, there are several advantages to arthroscopic surgery: minimal blood loss, total preservation of anatomical structures, few complications in the postoperative period, rapid resumption of daily and work activities.

The recovery period after shoulder arthroscopy varies depending on the type of surgery performed and the individual patient’s conditions. In general, most patients can resume normal daily activities within a few days after surgery. However, full recovery may take from several weeks to several months, depending on the severity of the problem and the complexity of the surgery.

During this period, the patient may need to follow a rehabilitation program to improve shoulder strength and flexibility. The surgeon will provide detailed instructions on the postoperative recovery period, including symptoms to monitor and activities to avoid during healing.

For your arthroscopy, turn to MiniHospital “Sandro Pertini”

The most common patients to undergo arthroscopy are elderly individuals with arthritis, athletes, and workers who repeatedly use their arms overhead (e.g., porters, warehouse workers, etc.). Whether you belong to these categories or not, at MiniHospital “Sandro Pertini,” you can undergo orthopedic surgery for shoulder injuries and other body areas.

MiniHospital provides a comprehensive pathway from orthopedic evaluation to pre and post-operative physiotherapy treatments, if the latter is strictly necessary.

Would you like more information on arthroscopy or, in general, on other orthopedic surgery procedures? Fill out the form and submit your request; you will receive all the information about our services and the necessary explanations.

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