Severe shoulder conditions with persistent symptoms that have not responded to conservative treatments may benefit from shoulder arthroplasty, or shoulder joint replacement surgery. Shoulder arthroplasty is a procedure in which the damaged joint is replaced with an artificial joint that allows patients to enjoy painless motion and resume their regular activities. Joint replacement of the shoulder is not performed as frequently as that of the hip or knee, but it is equally effective in improving a patient’s comfort and use of the affected arm.
Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical technique that involves making several small incisions and inserting a fiber-optic device (arthroscope) and tiny surgical instruments to diagnose or treat certain conditions. Connected to a camera that displays images of the internal structure of the shoulder on a computer screen, the arthroscope allows the surgeon to precisely identify and target joint abnormalities. Orthopedic surgeons may perform a shoulder arthroscopy to diagnose and treat several different conditions of the shoulder. With this type of procedure, patients benefit from less tissue damage, shorter recovery times, less scarring and less post-operative pain than traditional open procedures. The use of this technique also avoids cutting any muscles or tendons in order to gain access to the affected area. Arthroscopy is an ideal treatment option for many patients suffering from shoulder conditions.
A dislocation is is an injury to a joint in which the ends of the bones are forced from their normal positions. The shoulder is a “ball-and-socket” joint where the “ball” is the rounded top of the arm bone (humerus) and the “socket” is the cup (glenoid) of the shoulder blade. A layer of cartilage called the labrum cushions and deepens the socket. A shoulder dislocation occurs when the humerus pops out of its socket, either partially or completely. As the body’s most mobile joint, able to move in many directions, the shoulder is most vulnerable to dislocation. A shoulder dislocation may be caused by a sports injury, trauma from a motor vehicle accident or a fall.
Shoulder fractures are usually caused by impact injuries such as direct blows, falls or vehicular accidents. When one or more of these bones fracture, severe pain occurs and movement is impaired. When a shoulder is fractured, soft tissues may be damaged as well.
Shoulder impingement occurs when the front of the shoulder blade rubs against the rotator cuff causing irritation and pain. The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that stabilizes the shoulder and permits lifting and rotating movements. If the rotator cuff weakens or is injured, the bone of the upper arm (humerus) can lift up, pinching the rotator cuff against the shoulder blade. The muscles can then swell further, creating a cycle of pain and weakness that worsens over time. Shoulder impingement is one of the most common causes of shoulder pain and occurs more frequently in athletes who lift their arms overhead, such as swimmers, baseball players and tennis players.
Shoulder Labral Repair
The socket of the shoulder, or glenoid, is covered with a layer of cartilage called the labrum that cushions and deepens the socket to help stabilize the joint. Traumatic injuries and repetitive overhead shoulder movements may cause a tear in the labrum, leading to pain, limited motion, instability and weakness in the joint. Symptoms of a labral injury may include shoulder pain and a popping or clicking sensation when the shoulder is moved. Some people experience weakness and a restricted range of motion as well. A labral tear is typically diagnosed through imaging tests, a physical examination and a review of symptoms. While many labral tears can be treated by managing pain symptoms through medication and undergoing physical therapy, some cases require surgical treatment.