Shoulder arthroscopy: is it for you?

Arthroscopic surgery has revolutionized orthopedic care and improved the lives of millions of people. Arthroscopy enables us to make needed repairs using a miniature fiber optic camera and fine tools that are inserted into joints through small incisions. Most structures of the joint can be seen and repaired using arthroscopy.

Arthroscopic surgery provides many advantages. With open surgery, incisions are large and muscles are often split or cut to expose the joint and provide a clear view of the injured area. In contrast, arthroscopy utilizes much smaller incisions and we view the injured area by using a camera.

As a result, there is much less trauma to joints and tissue, post-surgical pain is minimized, wounds can heal quicker, recovery is usually faster, and people’s range of motion is often far greater.

Most patients with shoulder pain get better with conservative, nonsurgical treatments such as anti-inflammatory medications or physical therapy. However, surgery can provide substantial improvement in function for many people who don’t respond to conservative treatments.

The two most common ailments treated with arthroscopy are subacromial impingement syndrome and rotator cuff tears. These usually occur in people 40 to 60 years of age who experience a dull, achy pain and weakness in the shoulder region that becomes worse when the shoulder joint rotates or arms are lifted overhead. In cases such as these, 85 to 95 percent of people who undergo arthroscopic surgery report good to excellent results. Please see your doctor if you believe you may have one of these ailments.

Brian J. Bear, M.D., is an orthopedic surgeon at Rockford Orthopedic Associates and an Active Staff member of OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center.

The members of the medical staff at OSF Saint Anthony urge you to protect your health by having regular checkups and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. For more information, call 815-395-5342.

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