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Shoulder Decompression

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What Could Be Causing Your Shoulder Pain

Patients experiencing shoulder pain could have a bone spur creating pressure in the shoulder. Shoulder pain can be caused by a condition called shoulder impingement. Bone spurs can create excessive pressure on the soft tissues in the shoulder. Certain types of movement in the shoulder increases shoulder pain and pressure. Decompression surgery can relieve shoulder pain symptoms by expanding the available space for soft tissue by removing bone spurs.

What is a Bone Spur?

Bone Spurs found in the shoulder are commonly just extra bone. An osteophyte or bone spur is usually an area of excessive bone growth. Ligaments, tendons, and nerves can be damaged when bone growth shrinks the space between the shoulder joint.

What Causes Bone Spurs in Shoulder Joints?

Excessive use and injury can cause the body to build extra bone as it tries to repair itself. This is commonly a response to long periods of pressure, rubbing, or stress on the shoulder joint.

Dr. Hessing Orthopedic Surgeon

Shoulder Surgeries

Shoulder Decompression Surgery

Shoulder Decompression also known as Subacromial decompression, is performed as an arthroscopically. Subacromial decompression is a surgery used to treat shoulder impingement syndrome and alleviate shoulder pain. Most patients have reduced shoulder impingement pain after surgery. The method is used depends on the patient’s circumstances.

What Happens During a Shoulder Decompression Procedure?

The subacromial space is normally about 9 to 10 millimeters and is located between the shoulder’s ball-and-socket and the acromion. If this space shrinks it can cause shoulder pain and shoulder impingement symptoms. The encroaching bone can rub on the rotator cuff and subacromial bursa causing painful shoulder rotation. If you need surgery, one of our orthopedic specialists will schedule the surgery for you. During the decompression the surgeon removes bone to increase the subacromial space.

Common Decompression Procedures

  • Shaving down the acromion bone or acromioplasty
    • This relieves shoulder pain and impingement symptoms by reducing pressure on the rotator cuff and bursa.
  • Removing osteophytes or bone spurs
    • Shaving down bone spurs can relieve shoulder pain and increase shoulder mobility.

Arthroscopic Shoulder Surgery

Arthroscopic Shoulder Surgery is a minimally invasive surgery that uses 2 to 4 small incisions. The incisions are commonly 5 mm in length and provide entry into the shoulder. Our surgeons inspect the shoulder joint, tendons, rotator cuff, and other soft tissue to identify damage. We utilize a small camera called an arthroscope to examine the inner parts of the shoulder.

At Orthopaedic Associates we usually recommend arthroscopic surgery for patients with moderate shoulder impingement. Arthroscopic Shoulder Surgery allow patients to return to sports and/or daily activities. Stage II impingement or Moderate shoulder impingement is characterized by increased shoulder pain. Patients are typically between the ages of 25 to 40.

When Arthroscopic Subacromial Decompression May Not Be Recommended.

An arthroscopic procedure is usually not suggested if the patient has:

  • Excessive Shoulder Stiffness
  • Large Rotator Cuff Tear
  • An Irregularly Shaped Acromion

Outpatient Shoulder Decompression Surgery

Arthroscopic subacromial decompression doesn’t usually require an overnight hospital stay. Patients typically leave the hospital following the procedure.

Open Shoulder Surgery

Open surgery means a larger incision, the procedure requires a single, large incision about 4 to 6 cm. Larger rotator cuff tears are the most common reason for Open surgery. Patients may be admitted to the hospital in Boise, for 1 or 2 nights for post-surgical recovery if necessary.

Shoulder Pain Recovery

Exercises and stretches to reduce swelling and stiffness are included in the 3 months following a shoulder decompression surgery. Another 3 months of recovery may be required for rotator cuff surgery. Physical therapist will educate patients during the recovery process and explain exercises to perform at home. Recovery times can vary, after the procedure. However, some patients are able to make small shoulder movements early in recovery. Arthroscopic surgery tend to have less shoulder pain during the initial days following the procedure and a faster recovery.

Complications for Decompression Surgery

Potential risks and complications for arthroscopy and open surgery include:

  • Shoulder Pain
  • Shoulder Stiffness
  • Damage to blood vessels or nerves

When Decompression Doesn’t Work

Subacromial Decompression can relieve shoulder pain in the majority of patients, however some people may experience chronic shoulder pain. This is not the typical outcome but should be considered.

  • An incorrect diagnosis.
    • An accurate diagnosis prior to surgery is critical.
  • The patient does not follow postsurgical instructions.
    • Shoulder pain can result if the patient does not follow the rehabilitation program.
  • Too little bone was removed.
    • Surgery may not relieve symptoms if not enough bone tissue was removed from the acromion.

What to Expect after Shoulder Surgery

Patient expectations for total recovery can be too high. Every patient recovers differently but the shoulder may never feel exactly the same as it did before shoulder impingement. At Orthopaedic Associates we inform our patients about the results they should expect and what the surgery can accomplish. A consultation and full diagnosis of the case is required to assess the outcomes possible.

Shoulder Revision Surgery

If you have had an acromioplasty surgery that was unsuccessful, consider a second acromioplasty. The outcomes for second procedures vary by the case. But, our patients report being content with the results from a revised acromioplasty procedures and can experience improved shoulder function.

Orthopedic Specialists

Jeffrey Hessing, MD and Timothy Doerr, MD have a passion for helping others. They have a combined 50 years of orthopedic excellence dedicated to the people of the Boise area. All of our surgeons are board certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery.

Dr. Doerr Dr. Hessing

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