We depend on our shoulders so often every day that we may not realize how important a shoulder is until it’s injured.
Shoulders provide the greatest range of motion of any joint in the body. Because of this, a shoulder injury can curtail even the most basic of our daily activities. Whether that’s showering, eating, dressing, or working, a shoulder injury can slow anyone down.
This daily dependence on our shoulders is one reason why so many people may opt to have their shoulder injury surgically repaired. Many shoulder surgeries can be performed arthroscopically – in a minimally invasive way involving a small incision and use of miniature tools with light and a camera (arthroscope) that allow a surgeon to see into the joint. However, sometimes a complete or “open” shoulder replacement is required.
While shoulder replacements are performed less often than knee or hip replacements, the procedures can now be performed with life-changing results.
Common Injuries of the Shoulder
The shoulder is one of the most complex joints in the body. It includes the upper arm (humerus), shoulder blade (scapula), and collarbone (clavicle) and it is primarily driven by the rotator cuff, a group of muscles and tendons that attach muscle to bone. The ring of cartilage that cushions the ball-and-socket joint of the shoulder is called the labrum.
When rotator cuff tendons become inflamed or irritated, it can cause bursitis or rotator cuff tendonitis. If it a tendon tears away from the bone, as is the case with many torn rotator cuffs, surgery is required it. The cartilage (labrum) around the shoulder joint also can become damaged in what is known as a labral tear.
Repairing Shoulder Injuries
Injured shoulders hurt. Anyone who experiences an injury to the shoulder knows how debilitating it can be. It interferes with so many daily activities, getting it repaired is crucial to leading a normal life again.
Most shoulder injuries requiring surgery can be repaired arthroscopically. In this type of procedure, several small incisions are made in the shoulder and an arthroscope is inserted into the injured shoulder joint to locate and treat the source of the problem. While most shoulder repairs are done on an outpatient basis and last roughly an hour, more severe injuries may take additional time to repair. If the rotator cuff tear is large, for example, a doctor may choose to perform the more traditional open surgery, which involves a larger incision when greater access is needed.
Following surgery on a shoulder, you might experience some swelling and discomfort, although patients are typically given painkillers to help relieve any post-surgical pain.
You will likely need to wear a sling for a period of time in order to immobilize the shoulder joint to aid healing.
Your doctor will schedule a regimen of physical therapy, which is a critical component of your recovery.
Most activities like showering and dressing oneself will take extra time and can be difficult to accomplish for weeks to months after a shoulder surgery.
There is no rushing recovery after the trauma of surgery, which can take a toll on the body. Recovery from shoulder surgery may take months and affect many aspects of your life, including driving, dressing, and other daily tasks.
If you suffer from shoulder pain and are contemplating surgical treatment, then you need to speak with one of the orthopedic surgeons at the Center for Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine. Our orthopedic specialists can help determine the best way to repair your injured shoulder and what you can expect as far as your recovery. Call today at (210) 692-7400 to schedule your appointment or you can request an appointment using the convenient online form.