Know the basics

What is Shoulder surgery?

The rotator cuff is formed from four muscles and tendons that attach your arm to the top of your shoulder blade. Impingement or a tear are the usual types of damage that can happen to the rotator cuff.

Why is Shoulder surgery performed?

You would receive shoulder surgery if your conditions are too bad to treat non-surgically or they become worse after other methods.

Understand the risks

What are the risks of Shoulder surgery?

Most people with impingement or a small tear can get back good function in their shoulder by changing their activities, and with the help of exercises and physiotherapy.

Simple painkillers such as paracetamol and anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen can also help.

A steroid and local-anaesthetic injection into your shoulder can sometimes reduce pain.

If you have a large tear, it is likely that surgery is your only option to get back some strength in your shoulder.

It is important you understand the risks and complications before having this surgery. If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor or surgeon for more information.

Know what happens

How do I prepare for Shoulder surgery?

You must discuss to your doctor about your recent medications, your allergies or any of your health conditions and before having an operation, you will meet your anaesthetist and plan your anaesthetic together. It’s important to follow the instructions about when to stop eating and drinking prior to surgery.

You should be given clear instructions to follow before the operation, including whether you can eat anything in the hours leading up to it. In most cases, you should start fasting about six hours before your procedure. You may be able to drink fluids, such as coffee, until a few hours before your surgery.

What happens during Shoulder surgery?

The operation is usually performed under a general anaesthetic but various anaesthetic techniques are possible. The operation usually takes 45 minutes to an hour.

Impingement is usually treated by an arthroscopy (keyhole surgery). Your surgeon will use instruments to remove any thickened tissue, release any tight tissue and to shave off some bone.

Your surgeon may also be able to repair rotator-cuff tears using keyhole surgery. However, they may need to use open surgery. They will use stitches that anchor into the bone.

What should I do after receiving shoulder surgery?

You should be able to go home the same day. Any stitches or clips are usually removed after one to two weeks.

It can take up to a year to get back enough strength in your shoulder to return to normal activities.

Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.

You may not get back the same strength that you had before you damaged your shoulder.

If you have any questions or concerns, please consult with your doctor or surgeon for more information.

Recovery

What happens after Shoulder surgery?

There are always some risks with any surgery, even arthroscopic procedures. These include possible infection, and damage to surrounding nerves and blood vessels. However, modern surgical techniques and close monitoring have significantly minimized the occurrence of these problems.

After surgery, some pain, tenderness, and stiffness are normal. There are specific complications which are:

  • Bleeding into your shoulder
  • Restricted shoulder movement
  • Infection in your shoulder
  • Blood clot
  • Severe pain, stiffness and loss of use of your arm and hand (complex regional pain syndrome)
  • Damage to nerves
  • The rotator cuff tearing again or the tear failing to heal

You can reduce your risk of complications by carefully following your doctor’s instructions for preparing for the surgery, such as fasting and stopping certain medications.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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