When the soft tissue that stabilizes the shoulder is torn or strained because of a shoulder dislocation, or if you experience frequent dislocations, doctors may recommend surgery to repair or tighten the damaged shoulder. Surgery may also be needed if a dislocation causes damage to the bones and ligaments in the joint.
An orthopedic surgeon may recommend surgery for recurring shoulder dislocations to alleviate any further damage to your shoulder. Surgery may improve joint stability and prevent future dislocation. A surgical solution is normally needed for younger players because the likelihood of a recurring rotator cuff injury and shoulder dislocation is higher in young players.
Arthroscopic Shoulder Surgery
Surgery for a dislocated shoulder is often required to tighten torn or stretched tendons or ligaments. A surgeon may also repair a torn labrum, the ring of cartilage that surrounds the shoulder socket and stabilizes the humerus. Together, these soft tissues hold the joint in place. The goal of surgery is to repair or tighten these tissues.
An arthroscopic technique allows surgeons to access the shoulder using tiny incisions, minimizing damage to surrounding tissues. This surgery is performed using a slim, pencil-sized instrument called an arthroscope that is inserted into the joint through a small incision. After positioning the arthroscope, the surgeon inserts small surgical tools through a separate small incision to reposition a torn ligament or labrum. Arthroscopic surgery is performed using general anesthesia.
This type of surgery is less invasive; therefore, patients heal faster and are able to return to normal activities in three months.
Open Shoulder Surgery
If the arthroscopic surgery is unsuccessful and shoulder weakness and pain persists, your surgeon will do a diagnostic imaging test to check if the shape of the bones has changed. He will recommend open surgery. Open surgery involves accessing the joint through a single incision above the shoulder blade.
If the damage is excessive, your doctor may perform a bone graft to repair bone loss in the glenoid socket. Over time, the grafted bone fuses to the shoulder socket to stabilize the shoulder.
Arthroscopy is an outpatient procedure, which means you can expect to return home within hours of surgery. Doctors may prescribe pain medication for the first week or two. As your shoulder heals and the pain lessens, doctors recommend transitioning to an over-the-counter pain reliever.
Doctors recommend immobilizing the arm and shoulder using a sling for four to six weeks while the soft tissues heal. Your doctor will monitor how you are improving at a follow-up appointment two weeks after surgery.
After six weeks, doctors encourage three to six months of physical therapy to rebuild muscle strength and restore range of motion. During the first week’s post-surgery, physical therapists use heat and massage therapy to relieve pain and inflammation. As the shoulder heals, stretching and strengthening exercises are incorporated.
After a shoulder dislocation surgery, the patient needs to rest the shoulder for the recommended time and avoid returning to activities that may cause another dislocation. Singapore has excellent surgeons in its hospital so expect to get the best care possible.