What are the Different Options for Shoulder Repair?

M.R. Anglin

Some of the different options for shoulder repair are physical therapy, reducing or eliminating the activity causing the pain, and surgery. Depending on the type and severity of the injury, a person may be best treated using a surgical or non-surgical approach. Surgical approaches include open shoulder surgery, mini-open shoulder surgery, and arthroscopy. A doctor may often choose a non-surgical approach to shoulder repair before trying a surgical approach. Non-surgical options include physical therapy and reducing potentially offending activities.

Surgery may be required to repair painful shoulders.
Surgery may be required to repair painful shoulders.

Shoulder surgery has been shown to be equally effective regardless of the amount of time that passes between the injury and the surgery. A doctor may often put off surgery, therefore, in favor of non-surgical shoulder repair methods. For example, a minor shoulder fracture usually heals unassisted if a person keeps the arm still. Similarly, if a person rests his arm after the first incidence of a dislocated shoulder, he can often regain normal shoulder function without surgery. Physical therapy can also be used to help redevelop shoulder muscle strength.

Physical therapy can be used to redevelop shoulder muscle strength.
Physical therapy can be used to redevelop shoulder muscle strength.

In cases of severe pain, weakness, or other symptoms, a doctor may have to recommend a surgical shoulder repair option, such as open shoulder repair, mini-open shoulder repair, or arthroscopy. Each of these surgeries has its own risks and benefits, and requires a level of technical expertise. For this reason, the experience of the surgeon is also a factor when deciding which option to utilize. Regardless of which option is chosen, all three surgeries have been shown to provide similar results.

Arthroscopy may be the shoulder repair option most patients would like to choose because it is the least invasive and can be undertaken as an outpatient surgery. In arthroscopy, a small incision is made, and a camera is used to see the problem area. The surgeon can then create a small incision to insert the tools and repair the damage.

Mini-open shoulder surgery can also be an outpatient procedure. Through a smaller incision, a doctor may use a camera and tools to repair some of the damage so the deltoid muscle does not have to be detached. After that repair is completed, the surgeon may make a larger incision to make any other necessary shoulder repairs. Open shoulder repair surgery utilizes a larger incision so a surgeon can directly access the damaged area. In this method, the muscle often has to be detached from the bone in order for the doctor to repair the damage.

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