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How a Shoulder Decompression Surgery Can Help Your Shoulder Impingement

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Have you been suffering from shoulder impingement and been advised about shoulder decompression surgery by your orthopedic surgeon?

Now, you are thinking about how this surgery will provide you relief from your condition. You must be having 100 questions running through your mind. We will answer the most common questions regarding the shoulder decompression surgery and hope you will find your answers after reading this.

What is Shoulder Impingement?

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that attach your upper arm to the shoulder. The rotator cuff is present below the top of the shoulder bone called the acromion.

There is a space between the acromion and top of the arm bone called the subacromial space. A fluid-filled sac (bursa) is present in this space which allows the tendons to move freely when you move your arm. When the rotator cuff starts to rub against the acromion, it leads to irritation and swelling of the bursa, which is called shoulder impingement. Symptoms may include:

  • Pain while lifting the arm
  • Worsening of pain at night
  • Weakness in the arm
  • Constant mild pain in your arm

What is the Treatment of Shoulder Impingement?

There are conservative treatment options for shoulder impingement that help in reducing pain and inflammation. These options can be:

  • Rest and ice pack application
  • Physical therapy
  • Pain relieving medication
  • Steroid Injections

If these methods fail to give you enough relief, then the doctor recommends shoulder decompression surgery.

What Happens During Shoulder Decompression Surgery?

Depending on the complexity of the case, the surgery usually takes around an hour. It is typically performed under general anesthesia. After administering anesthesia, the orthopedic surgeon makes small incisions in the shoulder to insert an arthroscope, which is a flexible tube-like instrument with a small camera. With the help of an arthroscope, the surgeon can look into the subacromial space and insert surgical instruments to remove the inflamed tissues or reshape the part of the acromion. After the repair is done, the site of incision is closed with stitches by the surgeon.

How Long Does It Take To Recover After Subacromial Decompression Surgery?

It usually takes around 6 to 8 weeks to fully recover after the surgery. Physical therapy plays an important role in recovering from surgery and gaining full range of motion. The physical therapist helps the patient in performing different types of exercises to speed up the recovery. Exercises may include:

  • Stretching the shoulder and arm muscles
  • Improving the strength of the shoulder muscles

Points to Remember

Patients who follow the instructions given by the doctor and adhere to physical therapy, can expect to recover over a period of 6 to 8 weeks after the surgery.

You should be able to move your arm below shoulder height by 1 to 2 weeks after surgery and above shoulder height by around 2 to 4 weeks. However, it may take a couple of months to see the full benefit of the surgery.

Most people in desk jobs may return to work after 1 week, but jobs requiring significant arm movement or lifting objects may take around 6 weeks to return to work.

You can start driving as soon as you feel comfortable, are off all medication, and confident in controlling your vehicle. However, it is advisable to start with short trips.

If you or anyone you know are experiencing pain in the shoulders or arms, contact Orthopaedic Associates. We are here to help you feel at your best.

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