When the soft tissues located in the shoulder become strained or dislocated, our Atlanta orthopedic surgeons may suggest surgery. Surgery is suggested to correct the damage that may have been done to the structure of the shoulder or to tighten areas that may have been stretched out due to overuse.
Shoulder Injuries That Require Surgery
For those young athletes who suffer frequent dislocations from throwing a ball or even colliding with another person in sports, surgery may be recommended to correct the damage caused by the sports related injury. The orthopedic surgeons often times suggest the surgery because it will allow for the athlete to have stronger joint stability and decrease the chance of future dislocations.
The best part about some of these surgeries is that they can be performed minimally invasively, which means the patient will have a faster recovery time and will spend less time in the hospital.
Arthroscopic Shoulder Surgery
The ultimate goal when repairing a dislocated shoulder is to tighten and repair the damaged tissues. The ligaments and tendons due to the dislocation or in some cases, many dislocations, suffer stretching and tearing which can lead to pain in the shoulder. A torn labrum may also need to be repaired as that is the ring of cartilage that surrounds the shoulder socket and stabilizes the humerus.
Our Atlanta orthopedic surgeons use an arthroscopic approach which allows for small incisions which reduces the risk of causing any damage to the surrounding tissues.
This type of approach uses a slim, pencil-sized instrument called an arthroscope that is inserted into the joint through a small incision. The arthroscope has a video camera and a light at one end and sends a live video of the inside of the shoulder to a nearby monitor. This allows the surgeon to have a clear view of the interior of the joint and it can be magnified many times to show tiny details in the bones, tendons, ligaments, and labrum.
After positioning the arthroscope, the surgeon inserts small surgical tools through a separate small incision. Using the video as a guide, the surgeon repositions a torn ligament or labrum to the bone.
This type of surgery is performed under general anesthesia and in addition to that, surgeons use a nerve block to prevent nerve signals from causing pain to the shoulder. This type of nerve block can help prevent pain in the shoulder for about 10-12 hours.
With the arthroscopy procedure, patients can expect to have their procedure and return home in the same day. Medications will be prescribed to manage the pain for the first one to two weeks and then doctors will begin to wean the patient to over the counter medications.
The arm and shoulder will be immobilized by the use of a sling to promote healing for about 4-6 weeks as the soft tissue heals. Expect to meet with your doctor about two weeks following your surgery for a post-operative appointment.
In order to regain full range of motion, our team of doctors typically recommend beginning physical therapy about six weeks after surgery for anywhere from three to six months to ensure that the muscles are being restored to their optimal potential.
Open Shoulder Surgery
If pain and shoulder weakness is present and arthroscopic surgery has already been attempted, as well as changes in the shape of the bones in the joint, an open surgery may be recommended. With this approach, a single incision is made as opposed to multiple small incisions and the surgeon will repair the damaged tendons, ligaments or the labrum.
To repair bone loss in the glenoid socket caused by repeated injury, the surgeon takes a piece of living bone, called a bone graft from another part of your body—usually along the top of your hip bone—and shapes it to fit the rim of the glenoid to create a deeper socket. With time, the bone graft eventually connects to the shoulder and then forms solid bone. This graft allows for the shoulder to have stability as well as holding the arm bone in the correct place.
With this type of surgery, some patients may be released from the hospital the same day whereas others may need to stay a night or two in the hospital for pain management. For those that must stay overnight, nurses work with the patient to maintain low levels of pain and keep them comfortable following the surgery with pain medications.
Having an open shoulder surgery, your arm will be immobilized in a sling for about two to six weeks following surgery to help promote proper healing. When eating and sleeping the sling can be removed but when performing any other activities the sling must be worn to ensure that everything is healing correctly. Follow-ups usually occur around day 10 and the surgeon will check the incision site as well as checking to see if the joint is healing accordingly and you will most likely learn more about physical therapy at this appointment.
Physical therapy will most likely be suggested for six to eight weeks. Heat and massage are common techniques used by therapists to help minimize pain and reduce inflammation. As pain begins to decrease, more strenuous exercises will be implemented by the physical therapy team to help increase the range of motion and flexibility.
Our team of Atlanta orthopedic doctors are skilled in their craft in providing you with the best cutting edge procedures for your shoulder dislocation surgery in Atlanta. If you are looking to learn more about how we can help you regain better range of motion and decrease your level of pain, contact us today at (404) 855-2141.