When to Seek Shoulder Surgery

When it comes to joints, the shoulder is arguably one of our most complex. Comprising of three bones (the humerus or upper arm bone, the scapula or shoulder blade and the clavicle or collar bone), cartilage, tendons and ligaments, it is also one of the most mobile parts of our anatomy. Unfortunately, this means that when our shoulder becomes injured or damaged in some way, repair and recovery is usually far from straightforward.

Countless people suffer from shoulder injuries every year, and while many are mild and rectify by themselves, others are just too severe to heal on their own. In these instances, shoulder surgery may be the only viable option.

Types of shoulder pain

There are many different types of shoulder pain, and which you experience may depend on the injury that you have sustained. Some of the most common types of shoulder pain include:

  • Radiating shoulder pain. This starts in your shoulder and radiates through the entire arm, and generally means that your injury is severe enough to affect the muscles as a whole.
  • Weakness in the arm. Serious shoulder injuries can make the whole arm feel weaker than usual, which may inhibit your day to day activities.
  • Difficulty reaching and lifting. Our shoulders are imperative to these actions, but injuries to this area could cause pain and difficulty in performing them.
  • Constant pain regardless of inactivity. It is normal for pain from an injury to be worse when making certain movements. However, if you experience constant discomfort in your shoulder and arm, it could indicate that you have done yourself considerable damage.
  • Unable to sleep due to shoulder pain. Although we may go to sleep on one side of our body, we invariably move around when we are unconscious. If we happen to lean on a painful shoulder, the discomfort may wake us up or keep up awake during the night.

What is shoulder surgery?

Shoulder surgery is a general term to describe surgical repair to damage in the shoulder joint. In addition to conventional surgery, many types of shoulder surgery can be performed arthroscopically. This is a micro-invasive approach that enables the surgeon to perform the repair through one or more very small incisions, rather than opening the shoulder up. This provides patients with a number of benefits, including fewer risks during and after surgery, less scarring and a faster rate of recovery.

Common arthroscopic procedures include:

  • Rotator cuff repairs
  • Ligament repairs
  • Removal of inflamed tissue
  • Bone spur removal
  • Repair or removal of the labrum
  • Repair for recurrent shoulder dislocation

How do I know if I require shoulder surgery?

Shoulder surgery is something that can only be recommended by a qualified and experienced doctor or orthopedic surgeon. To reach this conclusion, you will have undergone a comprehensive assessment which will include diagnostic imaging tests such as x-rays and CT scans and a physical examination. We will also be satisfied that your injury is not healing by itself and more conventional treatments such as pain medications and corticosteroid injections are only helping you to control the discomfort and other side effects that you are experiencing.

Generally speaking, surgery is recommended if you have persistent pain or weakness in your shoulder that does not improve with nonsurgical treatments. Your shoulder pain is also probably interfering with your ability to work, sleep and enjoy recreational activities. Other side effects of a persistent shoulder problem include loss of motion or mobility, stiffness upon waking or after periods of rest, or discomfort that seems to get worse in humid weather.

Our highly respected orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Aron D. Rovner, has extensive experience in providing both conventional and arthroscopic shoulder surgery. He would be delighted to relieve you of your pain and help you to embrace a more active and fulfilling life. For more information or to schedule your confidential consultation, please call our office today.