September 01, 2020

Shoulder problems

Advances in surgical care

There are several options for repairing a shoulder problem with surgery. Some may only take an hour or two and some repairs can be done as outpatient procedures. Recovery takes time, but is often easier than in the past.

Shoulder problems

After your diagnosis of a torn rotator cuff, you were instructed to treat it with rest, physical therapy and pain medication.

But now it's been several months of continued pain, and your doctor says you may want to consider surgery. You're not thrilled at the thought. You've heard a few stories over the years about painful, long recoveries and months in a sling.

However, shoulder surgeries for rotator cuff injuries and other problems such as arthritis have come a long way. Common shoulder repair and replacement surgeries may only take an hour or two. Some can be performed as outpatient procedures, and there are now less invasive surgical techniques with smaller incisions.

Still, it will take months to fully restore strength and function with exercises and physical therapy. As with any surgery, it's important to weigh the benefits and risks of possible surgical solutions to common shoulder problems.

A look inside

Your shoulder is a complex meeting of muscles, tendons and bone. The ball on the top of your upper arm bone (humerus) meets the socket in your shoulder blade (scapula). Cartilage covers the socket and the rounded top of the humerus so the ball and socket can glide easily with minimal friction.

Your shoulder socket is shallow, and your rotator cuff surrounds the shoulder joint, helping to hold the ball in place. The rotator cuff consists of four muscles and the tendons that attach them to the humerus. The rotator cuff helps you raise your arm in the air and...