Shoulder arthroscopy surgery is a less invasive, more commonly used medical procedure used for diagnosis and treatment of shoulder injuries. It involves uses a small camera instrument about the size of a pencil to examine the knee, diagnose the issue, and then remove or repair the damaged tissues as needed.
Unlike a full joint operation, shoulder arthroscopy is performed using a few small incisions into the joint. As a result, shoulder arthroscopy requires less recovery time. Common arthroscopic shoulder procedures include rotator cuff repair, bone spur removal, labrum (piece of rubbery tissue attached to the rim of the shoulder socket that keep the ball of the joint in place) removal or repair, ligament repair, inflamed tissue or loose cartilage removal, and recurrent shoulder dislocation repair. It is almost always performed on an outpatient basis, and anesthesia can be local, regional, or general depending on the exact procedure being performed.
Candidates have painful shoulder conditions that do not respond to nonsurgical treatment such as rest, physical therapy, and medications or injections that reduce inflammation. Typically, injury, overuse and age-related wear and tear are responsible for most shoulder problems.
Candidates who have not yet exhausted nonsurgical treatment options or who are suffering from an active shoulder infection are generally are not good candidates for shoulder arthroscopy. For more severe shoulder conditions, an open shoulder surgery may be a better fit.
Like other surgeries, shoulder arthroscopy requires a complete physical examination by your primary care provider and/or orthopedic surgeon before surgery. You should inform your orthopedic surgeon of any medications or supplements you take, and comply with certain general surgery protocol such as preoperative blood testing and possible cessation of smoking or use of pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs one week prior. You will likely be asked to stop eating or drinking the night before the surgery.
Arthroscopic surgery is done on an outpatient basis. Immediately after your procedure, your doctor will prescribe pain relief medication and possibly a blood thinner to lessen the risk of blood clots. If your doctor uses regional anesthesia (numbing the area between your neck and the end of your torso), you may not be able to move your shoulder and hand, your eyelid may droop, and you may feel numbness in your shoulder and hand for 12 to 20 hours after the surgery. This is normal. In the first few days after surgery, keep your shoulder in the cuff or brace provided and apply ice to relieve swelling and prevent further inflammation. Ensure your incisions are kept clean and dry, and follow your surgeon’s instructions in regards to bathing, changing the dressing, and follow-up visits.
You can expect to return to normal activities in about 6 weeks. Recovery time may be longer depending on several factors such as your job requirements and initial severity of your condition. Rotator cuff tendon or shoulder dislocation repair usually takes four to six months to heal well enough for a return to full activity. A formal physical therapy program, or a regimen of exercises to strengthen your shoulder, is necessary and make take several months to a year to complete to ensure a complete recovery.
As with any surgery, there are risks of complications related to infection or adverse reactions to anesthesia. Other known complications include nerve and blood vessel injuries, blood clots, and excessive bleeding. Pain and swelling are expected in the initial recovery period, and may persist even with physical therapy and require long-term management.
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If you are having surgery outside of the country, your home country insurance is unlikely to cover a edical complication. As a result, we advise that you purchase a complication insurance policy, which is specifically designed to cover individuals who are traveling internationally for medical treatment.
Here are the two companies we have found to provide reliable services:
We have written a comprehensive overview comparing the pros and cons of both companies that you can view here.
It may be wise to purchase travel health insurance when you travel internationally, as your home country insurance may not completely cover medical expenses incurred while abroad.
Here are some options that MedRepublic clients have used in the past:
This is a short-term international travel medical plan for trips of up to 6 months. There are two different plans offered based on whether or not clients already have primary insurance domestically. You can choose from their network of providers across 180 different countries. For more information on what is covered, click here.
This is a short-term international travel medical plan for trips of 5 to 45 days. There are no country restrictions and you have the freedom to choose any doctor or hospital. There is also optional hazardous sports and scuba diving coverage. For more information on what is covered, click here.