Shoulder arthroscopy is mainly used to treat impingement, rotator cuff tearing and instability. It is a common operation in western society – very common in my practice – and successful in around 85% of people. Again, rotator cuff tears are relatively common in the ageing shoulder (more than 15% of people in their 70’s) and not always symptomatic. If your shoulders are not giving you too much trouble, then not repairing a small tear may be a valid option. There are large studies suggesting that non operative treatment in the right patients gives good results, so make sure you discuss this with me.
I also do an increasing number of arthroscopies on “frozen” shoulders (adhesive capsulitis).
Shoulder replacement is divided into two main types. The first is conventional replacement, where the ball and socket are replaced. The second is a reverse shoulder replacement, which is generally done in shoulders where the rotator cuff muscles and tendons are no longer functional. Both are successful in around 85% of patients. Typically, you are in hospital for two nights, and spend a few weeks in a sling.
Because the shoulder is not a primary weight bearing joint, it is sometimes appropriate to arthroscope the shoulder first to treat some pathologies with a smaller operation i.e. lower risk higher yield surgery.