Overview | Causes of Shoulder Pain | Pain Prevention | Nonsurgical Options | Rotator Cuff Arthroscopy | Shoulder Impingement Surgery | Total Shoulder Replacement | Reverse Shoulder Replacement | Superior Capsule Reconstruction

Rotator Cuff Arthroscopy

Injury to the shoulder is one of the most common injuries seen in an orthopaedic practice. Most shoulder injuries involve injury to the muscles, ligaments and tendons rather than the bones of the shoulder. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), there has been a five-fold increase in the number of serious shoulder and elbow injuries among youth baseball and softball players since 2000.

In 2006, 7.5 million people went to their doctor because of shoulder pain. More than half were for rotator cuff problems. Shoulder injuries often occur from sports related activities that involve repetitive overhead motions such as tennis, pitching and swimming. Everyday activities like heavy lifting or overhead work can also aggravate the shoulder.

Shoulder problems typically involve the soft tissues such as muscle, tendon or ligament. Most issues can be placed into two major categories, instability or rotator cuff (i.e. impingement).

The shoulder is composed of three bones: the upper arm bone (humerus), the shoulder blade (scapula), and the collarbone (clavicle). The top of the upper arm bone fits into a rounded socket in the shoulder blade. The socket is known as the glenoid. The muscles and tendons keep the arm bone centered in the shoulder socket. The tissues are known as the rotator cuff and cover the top of the upper arm bone and attach it to the shoulder blade.

Shoulder problems typically involve the soft tissues such as muscle, tendon or ligament. Most issues can be placed into two major categories, instability or rotator cuff (i.e. impingement).

Arthroscopy

Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive technique that uses a camera, tiny incision holes, and specialized tools that allow the orthopedic surgeon to fix rotator cuff tears usually through 3-4 very small incisions, usually less than .5 inch long.

During surgery for a rotator cuff tear, the surgeon removes debris from the damaged shoulder cuff tendon. This is called a debridement and is typically completed arthroscopically. Next, if bone spurs are present, the surgeon will next smooth the acromion area to prevent the acromion from pinching the tendon. The rotator cuff tear is repaired by suturing the torn tendon back to the humerus.

Arthroscopic surgery drastically speeds up recovery time and is less intrusive on the body. Recovery is less painful and scars are less noticeable.