Shoulder arthroscopic release

What is shoulder arthroscopic release?

Shoulder arthroscopic release for frozen shoulder is to release the tight structures within the shoulder affected by the condition. This not only restores movement but also can quite dramatically relieve pain. The operation is suitable for people who have failed to respond to non-operative measures such as injections and in whom the symptoms are making life very difficult.

Overall, the chances of the operation providing a good result are around four out of five.

What does this involve?

Shoulder arthroscopic release is performed under general anaesthetic and takes around one hour. Local anaesthetic is also used as part of the pain relieving technique either by direct injection into the site of the surgery or by numbing the nerves to the whole arm using a technique called a regional block. This is similar to the idea of an epidural anaesthetic frequently used in childbirth and can have benefits in not only providing excellent postoperative pain relief but also in reducing postoperative sickness and nausea.

The first step is to insert the telescope in to the shoulder through small incisions and inspect the whole of the inside of the shoulder joint and the tendons. The diagnosis is then confirmed and any additional problems with the cartilage or tendons can be identified. The tight layer in the shoulder is then released, using a telescopic instrument a little like a laser and movement is restored to the shoulder on the operating table.

Once the operation is complete, the small incisions are closed with single stitches that are removed after a week and covered with waterproof dressings.

When will I recover?

The operation generally requires a one night stay in hospital and your arm is placed into a special shoulder sling which is primarily for comfort and support. Exercises and physiotherapy start on the day of surgery and patients are your physiotherapist will teach you all you need to know for the first couple of weeks after discharge from hospital.

As a general guideline, the sling is worn for two weeks but it is not compulsory. Most people can start driving a car at about two weeks and have regained good ordinary use of the shoulder by four to six weeks.

There are no specific restrictions on the use of your arm afterwards but taking painkillers when needed and being sensible about physically demanding activities are clearly important.

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