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5 Shoulder Surgery Options Performed by an Orthopedic Surgeon

Whether you are a professional athlete, a weekend beer league warrior, or someone who has never thrown a ball in their life you may find yourself struggling with a nagging shoulder injury, or chronic shoulder pain that doesn’t seem to want to go away. Many people try physiotherapy and other traditional treatment options, but when they don’t get the desired results they may find themselves considering surgery by an orthopedic surgeon.
There are a few different ways to operate on the shoulder and they range from minimally invasive to more traditional ​open surgeries using a scalpel and sutures. Here are five common options a shoulder surgeon may recommend.

Your Shoulder Pain Specialists in Kelowna

If you are struggling with shoulder pain there are a few common injuries to the area that could be causing the issues:
  • Tendinitis: caused by inflammation in the rotator cuff or biceps tendon.
  • Bursitis: inflamed bursa in the shoulder due to overuse, inflammation, or medical conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis.
  • Rotator Cuff Injury: this type of shoulder issue happens due to a tear or strain in the group of muscles and tendons that surround the joint.
  • Adhesive Capsulitis: more commonly known as ‘frozen shoulder’ is characterized by stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint.
  • Osteoartritis: a degenerative joint disease where the cartilage and joint tissues break down.
A consultation with an orthopedic surgeon would be necessary to determine the exact condition that is causing your pain and discomfort. Often your doctor will use any combination of  x-rays, an MRI, and/or a CT Scan to help determine exactly what needs to be done to repair the shoulder.

5 Options to Repair Your Shoulder with Surgery

There are more than a few different options that a shoulder surgeon may recommend to treat your pain. Ranging from minimally invasive to full incisions. Each type offers up pros and cons, and what surgical style they choose to go for depends on the specific case.
  1. Arthroscopy. Arthroscopy is a treatment for one of the most common shoulder injuries: Bursitis aka shoulder impingement syndrome. Your doctor may recommend this type of surgical procedure as a way to add more space between the rotator cuff and top of the shoulder. When successfully completed the rotator cuff can glide without rubbing on the bone.
  2. Rotator Cuff Repair. Your orthopedic surgeon will make an incision approximately 6-8 inches long. Next, they will detach the surrounding muscle and repair the rotator cuff directly. There is another style of this surgery called a mini-open rotator cuff repair which involves placing anchors in the bone. From there your shoulder surgeon will securely reattach the tendons to the anchors.
  3. Acromioclavicular Repair. This is an open surgery that removes the end of the collarbone to help widen the AC joint space which is located between the clavicle and acromion. Severe shoulder issues in the area may require additional surgical procedures to reconstruct ligaments that support the clavicle.
  4. Biceps Tendon Surgery. This type of surgery can be completed on it’s own or as part of a rotator cuff repair. Your shoulder surgeon can either sever the tendon connection inside the shoulder joint to reattach it outside of the shoulder joint, or they can perform a tenotomy which means the bicep will be severed allowing it to retract down the arm. Other names for this procedure include tendon release, or tendon lengthening.
  5. Full Replacement. If you have severe arthritis, or a complex injury that has proven near impossible to repair, you may find you are a good candidate for a full shoulder joint replacement. Your orthopedic doctor will replace the damaged areas with an artificial ball joint made of metal and an artificial socket made of plastic.

Your Trusted Shoulder Surgeon to Assess the Risks and Rewards

Like all surgeries, the types listed above can be incredibly safe and effective to repair your shoulder, but of course they are not without risk. Major complications are uncommon with this type of surgery but they should still be noted as there is always a possibility.
Some of the rare complications can include infection, tissue scarring (fibrosis), and sepsis. Ensuring that your doctor provides you with a comprehensive post operative care and rehabilitation routine can reduce the risk of complications dramatically.
During your initial consultations, the orthopedic surgeon will take you through the risks, proposed benefits, and expected results of the surgical option they recommend for you. A good surgical team will allow you to take some time to make an informed choice. Part of a great result is to manage expectations and fully understand the scope of what a post-surgical rehabilitation will look like for you.
The team at Okanagan Health Surgical Centre in Kelowna, B.C has a team of professional orthopedic surgeons that are experts in their field, helping to relieve people from all over North America from shoulder pain and injury. Contact our support team today to book a consultation.


Q: What can I do to avoid a worsening shoulder injury?
A: Keeping your shoulder healthy is the best way to avoid ending up with a serious condition that will require surgical intervention. Ways you can do this are:
  • Ergonomically correct alignment if you work at a desk.
  • Proper support from any seat you spend time in: office chair, car etc.
  • Daily movement of your arms through stretching, yoga, lifting weights, jogging or other types of exercises as recommended by your physician and/or physical therapist.
  • Engaging in proper lifting techniques.
  • Strength training to better support the area. Be sure to do this with the guidance of a professional who understands your injury.
Q: How can I tell I have a shoulder injury?
A: There are some telltale signs that you have an injury that requires seeing a doctor:
  • Intense pain
  • Weakness in the arm
  • Numbness in the arm and/or hand
  • Reduction in motion
  • Misshapen shoulder joint
  • Swelling in the area
  • Stiffness or painful shoulder movement
  • Feeling as though the socket is ‘loose’
Sometimes you can treat shoulder injuries at home with ice and rest, but many injuries need professional intervention. If your pain does not alleviate itself within a day or two, or is a recurring condition, be sure to contact your doctor.
Q: How do I have shoulder pain without an injury to the area?
A: There are many conditions that are not caused by trauma to the area, or a specific injury. Some are:
  • Arthritis: Osteoarthritis or Rheumatoid
  • Pinched Nerve
  • Frozen Shoulder
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

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