Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Your shoulder is the most flexible joint in your body. It allows you to place and rotate your arm in many positions in front, above, to the side, and behind your body. This flexibility also makes your shoulder susceptible to instability and injury.

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Rotator Cuff Surgery

A rotator cuff tear is a common cause of pain and disability among adults. A torn rotator cuff will weaken your shoulder. This means that many daily activities, like combing your hair or getting dressed, may become painful and difficult to do.

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Arthroscopic Shoulder Surgery

Shoulder Arthroscopy allows for a quicker and easier recovery from shoulder surgery. It may relieve painful symptoms due to overuse and injury of the shoulder joint.

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Shoulder Arthroscopy for Rotator Cuff Tears

Rotator cuff tears are common athletic injuries, and are often best treated with shoulder arthroscopy, a minimally invasive surgical approach that reduces post-operative pain and reduced recovery time. Continue reading to learn more, or schedule an appointment with Dr. DuBois to find out if you are a candidate for arthroscopic rotator cuff repair.

Rotator Cuff TearBecause of the shoulder’s delicate anatomy, athletes engaging in repetitive upper body motions or upper body training are at a greater risk of experiencing shoulder problems. Repetitive, high-energy activities, such as lifting heavy weights overhead or pitching fastballs, exert high amounts of force on the shoulder and eventually damage the supporting components.

Many athletes will experience problems with their rotator cuff, a set of muscles responsible for moving the arm through its wide range of motion. Some rotator cuff injuries can be treated effectively through conservative treatment options, such as physical therapy and rehabilitation, activity modification, and anti-inflammatory drug treatment (NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen or tylenol). Other patients may opt for arthroscopic surgery, which tends to produce quicker results without many of the negative post-operative side effects associated with traditional open surgery.

Schedule an appointment with Dr. DuBois to discuss shoulder pain treatment options »

Understanding The Shoulder & Its Components

Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff RepairTo better understand how rotator cuff damage occurs, it is helpful to understand the basic anatomy of the shoulder joint. Continue reading to learn about how the shoulder’s components work together to move and rotate the upper arm.

The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint, much like the hip, with the main joint comprised of two bones: the humerus, or upper arm bone, and the scapula, or shoulder blade. The rounded top of the humerus (humeral head) fits within a shallow socket on the scapula known as the glenoid fossa, forming an unstable joint that is commonly dislocated. A ring of cartilage, known as the labrum, lines the lip of the socket to help prevent dislocation and provide additional depth.

A set of muscles, collectively known as the rotator cuff, attach to the main shoulder joint and hold the humeral head within the glenoid fossa. The four muscles begin at the humeral head and attach to the shoulder blade, playing a key part in lifting and rotating the arm through its wide range of motion.

Tearing the Rotator Cuff

The rotator cuff is integral in most upper body activity, and when injured, weakens the shoulder significantly. An injured rotator cuff limits a patient’s range of motion, causes pain during movement, and makes simple tasks, such as buttoning a shirt, painful and difficult.

Treatment Options for Rotator Cuff Tears

Rotator Cuff TearMany patients are able to treat their rotator cuff injuries non-surgically, through a series of conservative treatments that aim to alleviate stress placed on the rotator cuff muscles by strengthening the surrounding components. Conservative treatments include, but are not limited to:

  • Physical Therapy
  • Rehabilitation
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Activity modification to reduce movement

While conservative treatments avoid complications that might arise from surgery, they also limit the rotator cuff’s potential for increasing its strength. Because the injury is not being actively treated, the size of the tear may increase over time, as well. Additionally, many patients may not see activity modification as a feasible solution due to personal concerns.

Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair

When surgery is indicated, rotator cuff tears are best treated arthroscopically. This minimally invasive surgical approach allows athletes to return to the playing field more quickly with less post-operative pain. Shoulder arthroscopy is typically performed on an out-patient basis, meaning patients can return to their homes the same day of surgery to rehabilitate more comfortably.

Compared to open surgery, arthroscopic rotator cuff repair provides the following potential benefits:

  • Less post-operative pain
  • Quicker post-operative recovery
  • Less noticeable scarring

Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff RepairArthroscopic Surgery: The Procedure

Arthroscopy allows for the benefits of minimally invasive surgery because of its novel use of fiber-optic camera technology. Shoulder arthroscopy involves the use of an "arthroscope," a tiny camera that sends real-time images to a monitor in the operating room. Once the surgeon makes a small incision (just large enough to insert the arthroscope), the camera provides an internal view of the shoulder without splaying open the joint.

Once the arthroscope is inserted, the surgeon can perform the operation to repair the torn rotator cuff, as well as remove any floating pieces of cartilage that may be causing pain. The surgery requires significantly less invasion and tampering compared to open surgery, resulting in a less painful procedure with hastened rates of recovery.

Arthroscopic Rotator Cuff Repair in San Diego, CA

Dr. Benjamin DuBois is one of Southern California’s leading orthopedic surgeons, and has received specialized training to treat patients with sports injuries affecting the shoulder. As a fellowship-trained surgeon specializing in shoulder replacement and rotator cuff disorders, Dr. DuBois is one of the most knowledgeable shoulder surgeons in the San Diego area, and acts as a regional thought leader by training other physicians and surgeons in the diagnosis and treatment of shoulder injuries. Schedule an appointment to speak with Dr. DuBois at his La Mesa offices, located just 12 miles from Downtown San Diego.