Shoulder Arthroscopy

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What is an arthroscopy?

When there is damage below the surface of the skin that isn’t visible with the naked eye, special tools or procedures may be used to identify, diagnose and treat problems. An arthroscopy is especially helpful when treating shoulder injuries, as the procedure is less invasive and can shorten recovery time.

During the shoulder arthroscopy procedure, a small camera is inserted into the shoulder joint to guide the surgeon using small instruments to repair injuries.

To better understand how an arthroscopy works, we must understand the construction of the shoulder. It is one of the most used joints in the body, and is also one of the most complex.

The shoulder is made up of three bones: the humerus (the upper arm bone), the shoulder blade, and the collarbone. Other parts comprising the shoulder include the ball, which is the humeral head of the upper arm bone. It fits into the rounded socket in the shoulder blade, called the glenoid. Both of these surfaces are covered by articular cartilage that helps the bones glide smoothly against each other instead of grinding. Another type of cartilage called the labrum surrounds the glenoid to add stability and cushion the joint.

The shoulder capsule is surrounded by ligaments and tendons that hold the shoulder together. This bundle is called the rotator cuff. It covers the ball of the shoulder and attaches it to the shoulder blade. The rotator cuff also helps to keep the humerus centered in the shoulder socket.

When should you have a shoulder arthroscopy?

There are a few steps that are usually taken before surgery is recommended. It’s important to explore all non-surgical options including rest, physical therapy, lifestyle modification and medications to reduce inflammation.

An arthroscopic surgery may aid in relieving pain associated with:

  • Rotator cuff injuries
  • Labrum tears
  • Arthritis of the shoulder
  • Bone spurs
  • Dislocation

What to expect before, during and after surgery

Before surgery, you should go over any existing medical conditions and medications you are taking with your physician. You may also need bloodwork or other procedures done to safely perform your surgery.

Many times, arthroscopy is performed as an outpatient procedure, so based on your individual case, you may be able to go home a few hours after your surgery.

Depending on your procedure, you many need physical therapy after your surgery. Your surgeon should be able to recommend exercises to help you regain strength and mobility, as well as refer you to the proper therapy team.

As with any surgery, it’s important to adhere to your doctor’s recommendations after your procedure to ensure the best healing and return to daily activities.

To learn more about our shoulder specialists or to schedule an appointment, please visit

Shoulder Arthroscopy

One thought on “Shoulder Arthroscopy

  1. […] Surgery is sometimes required when these injuries do not respond to medication or therapy. In most cases, the surgeon will conduct an arthroscopy. This less invasive method uses a camera inserted into the shoulder joint to guide the surgeon fixing the tear with smaller instruments. To learn more about shoulder arthroscopy, visit this blog post. […]


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