Those who experience recurrent shoulder instability may need to undergo arthroscopic shoulder stabilisation. This procedure aims to stabilise the shoulder by preventing the shoulder joint from slipping out of place. Following surgery, your physiotherapist will offer support through the recovery process and prepare a tailored exercise program for you to follow.
How does Shoulder Instability occur?
Instability most commonly occurs after a tear or stretch in the lining of the shoulder joint (the capsule), labrum or rotator cuff. Any tear, stretch or detachment can cause the ball of the shoulder joint (humeral head) to move in and out of the socket to varying degrees. Some individuals experience partial shoulder dislocations whilst others experience a complete dislocation.
Can Physiotherapy Alone help to Stabilise the shoulder?
Depending on the extent of your instability, it may be possible to stabilise the shoulder through physiotherapy alone. Treatment will be focussed on restoring shoulder stability, strength and control. This is achieved by paying close attention towards the rotator cuff and other shoulder muscles (dynamic stabilisers) which will be trained to function in place of the damaged shoulder parts. Whilst physiotherapy may be effective in some cases, sportspeople with shoulder instability usually require physiotherapy in conjunction with surgery to achieve the most effective outcome.
Arthroscopic Shoulder Stabilisation – The Process
The surgery is performed as a day procedure under general anaesthetic. An arthroscope (tiny camera) will be inserted into the joint.This will allow the surgeon to view the inside of the joint and make necessary repairs to stabilise your shoulder. Small instruments are used to reduce the size of the stretched capsule, repair tears in the rotator cuff and reattach the torn labrum back to the bone. Once necessary repairs have been made, the arthroscope is removed, and the incisions are sealed with tape/sutures and a dressing is applied for protection against infection. You will need to wear a sling for at least 4 weeks post-surgery, which can only be removed to shower and get dressed.
Arthroscopic surgery is very effective in most cases. In more severe cases and for people who have experienced multiple dislocations over many years, open operation (full reconstruction) may be necessary.
Post-surgery, a 6-month physiotherapy program will support the shoulder healing process and assist in building strength and flexibility. After 6 to 9 months, you should have enough muscle control to resume full activity following approval from your physiotherapist and surgeon.
Sydney Shoulder Clinic have more than 30 years’ experience in physiotherapy and the treatment of shoulder injuries. Please don’t hesitate to call 9744 2201 if you have any queries about shoulder instability or the post-surgery rehabilitation process.