People who have shoulder problems often endure chronic pain in their shoulder and surrounding areas. One common problem is shoulder impingement syndrome, which is when the rotator cuff impinges on part of the shoulder when the shoulder lifts. Medical professionals usually try conservative treatment first such as physical therapy and medication, but if not successful, patients may need shoulder impingement surgery. Surgery may be laparoscopic or open, depending on the severity of the problem, but most patients can go home the same day. During the recovery period, the patient will usually need physical therapy.
The actual shoulder impingement surgical procedure is a shoulder decompression. Surgeons typically perform the procedure on an outpatient basis and patients get to go home the same day. Patients cannot eat or drink the night before surgery because of anesthesia. Most surgeons also require patients to have bloodwork the day before to rule out underlying medical conditions.
In order to do the surgery, the surgeon uses a microscopic camera or scope to look inside the person’s shoulder and analyze the extent of the damage. If possible, the surgeon will insert the instruments through a tiny incision and use the camera to direct him. Other times, the patient will need to have open surgery to fix the impingement.
A surgeon can release the impingement by removing the bone spur, acromion, or swollen ligament that is causing the problem. Sometimes, a bursa or fluid-filled sack has become wedged in between the shoulder and the rotator cuff, and it may be removed as well.
After surgery, a medical professional will place the patient’s arm in a sling to wear for a few weeks. A surgical team will monitor the patient in the recovery room for a few hours and then allow him or her to go home. The surgeon may prescribe pain medication or an anti-inflammatory for the patient to take.
Individuals who have had shoulder impingement surgery may need to remove the bandages daily to clean the wound and check for infection. Signs of infection include drainage, redness, and swelling at the incision site. Other symptoms would include running a fever along with numbness and extreme pain.
Post-operatively, patients participate in physical therapy once the shoulder has healed from surgery. Physical therapy generally consists of strengthening and flexibility exercises. Individuals can usually resume normal movements as soon as the swelling goes away.
In most cases, the surgery is a success. Some people, however, may continue to experience pain in the same shoulder and the orthopedist may opt to do another surgery. The surgeon may also assign temporary or permanent restrictions after the shoulder has healed, depending on the person’s physical condition.