The shoulder is one of the most movable joints in the body. However, it is an unstable joint because of the range of motion allowed. It is easily subject to injury because the ball of the upper arm is larger than the shoulder socket that holds it. Because the bones provide little inherent stability to the shoulder joint, it is highly dependent on surrounding soft tissues such as capsule ligaments and the muscles surrounding the rotator cuff to hold the ball in place. Some shoulder problems arise from the disruption of these soft tissues as a result of injury or from overuse or underuse of the shoulder. Other problems arise from a degenerative process in which tissues break down and no longer function well.

For shoulder conditions involving the surrounding muscles and tendons, such as a torn or diseased rotator cuff or a labral tear, a minimally invasive shoulder arthroscopy procedure is usually recommended. Orthopedic surgeons perform arthroscopic ligament and capsule repair through a tiny incision into which a small scope is inserted to observe the inside of the joint. Arthroscopic techniques involving the shoulder are relatively new and highly technical, and are best performed by a surgical team that performs this surgery often. At Hoag Orthopedic Institute you will find that the orthopedic surgeons and the entire surgical and physical therapy team are trained and experienced in leading edge shoulder surgery.

Your orthopedic surgeon may determine that a recurrent dislocating shoulder or shoulder separation is an injury severe enough to require surgery. Injuries where part of the ligaments and capsule of the shoulder are pulled away from the bone are called Bankhart lesions. Surgical techniques are aimed at fixing this problem and also at tightening up the ligaments of the shoulder that have been stretched or torn by the dislocation. Repairing the torn capsule and ligament back to the bone is called a Bankhart repair, and tightening the capsule of the shoulder is called a capsular shift. All of these procedures can be done with arthroscopic techniques.

When your shoulder surgery is arthroscopic, the size of the surgical scar will be smaller and the amount of pain after the operation will be less. Rehabilitation will be quicker as well. The amount and type of movement that you will be allowed to do following surgery will depend on the procedure that was done. Usually, at least six weeks of recovery time are required. In general, activities will be limited and gradually increased until the range-of-motion and strength in the repaired shoulder is equal to that of the other arm. In some cases, you may be able to return to light work within a few days. During your recovery period, you will be asked to conform to an exercise program set by the Hoag physical therapy team and your doctor as you continue to strengthen the shoulder.