What Does Shoulder Arthroscopy Involve?

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Sports medicine and total joint replacement surgeon Dr. Robert Goldman shares his insight on shoulder arthroscopy and what it involves.

Dr. Goldman: Hi, my name is Dr Robert Goldman. A member of Tri-County Orthopedics. I specialize in disorders of the hip, knee, and shoulder, and I'm fellowship trained in sports medicine and total joint replacement.

Shoulder arthroscopy is a procedure that allows us to insert a fiber optic camera into your shoulder joint. This allows us to visualize all the structures in the shoulder. Through this operation, we can then perform a number of different procedures without having to cut open the shoulder. Shoulder arthroscopy is recommended as a treatment option for patients who have painful disorders of the shoulder, who've shown to have structural abnormalities in the shoulder such as rotator cuff tears or label tears or other structures, or other damage inside the shoulder.

An ideal candidate for shoulder arthroscopy is a patient who has had a structural problem with the shoulder, either a torn rotator cuff or label tear, that has failed to improve with conservative treatments such as physical therapy and medications.

The advantages of shoulder arthroscopy is that it allows the doctor to look inside the shoulder without having to open up the shoulder. You can then determine the different problems that the patient has in the shoulder and be able to fix those problems without having to perform more invasive procedures.

Once shoulder arthroscopy is recommended as a treatment, the patient should discuss the procedure in detail with their doctor to determine what needs to be performed during the operation and what the postoperative protocol for physical therapies involves after the surgery.

Following shoulder arthroscopy, patients are discharged to home; they can generally remove the sling soon after the surgery and begin gentle exercises. They then follow up with the physician a few days after the surgery to get further instructions on physical therapy.