When shoulder injuries occur due to trauma, overuse, or aging, conservative treatment may not be sufficient to address sustained damage, requiring surgical intervention. Traditionally, such operations used to be performed using an open surgery approach where physicians would make a sizeable incision to access the shoulder joint and repair the damaged structures; today, most surgeons opt for the more effective arthroscopic surgery method.
Shoulder arthroscopy is a minimally-invasive diagnostic and operative procedure that provides multiple advantages compared to open surgery, including:
To determine the appropriate course of treatment, doctors will perform a physical examination that may include blood tests and EKGs and order X-rays, MRI, or CT scans to have a complete image of the internal damage to the shoulder socket, humerus, and associated structures. Arthroscopic shoulder surgery is recommended as a treatment option for several shoulder injuries, including:
Though less common, arthroscopy can also be employed to release or fix tangled nerves, repair fractures, or remove cysts. On the other hand, it's not a viable treatment method for more complex interventions like shoulder replacement, which can only be performed with an open shoulder procedure.