Like arthroscopy of the knee, shoulder arthroscopy is a two-part procedure. The minimally invasive process involves several small incisions, often referred to as keyholes. Those keyholes serve as entry points for the arthroscope which is a fiber-optic camera mounted on a flexible shaft. The first part of the procedure is exploration. The doctor will look closely at the entire shoulder joint noting the extent of damage, scar tissue, and the condition of the bones. The second part of the procedure would be to repair any damage such as torn muscles, tendons or to remove bone chips.
Shoulder arthroscopy is used to treat a wide variety of shoulder conditions from tendon and ligament injuries to osteoarthritis. The question of whether shoulder arthroscopy is an option depends on the location and severity of the injury. Conditions commonly treated with shoulder arthroscopy include frozen shoulder, shoulder impingement, biceps tendon disease, rotator cuff injuries, bone spurs, and labrum repairs, but may also be appropriate for other conditions.
In some cases, shoulder arthroscopy is performed on an outpatient basis so you may not need to stay overnight in the hospital. For other patients, the hospital stay ranges from one to three nights. Reaction to anesthetic is one reason for a longer hospital stay. Swelling or bleeding from the surgery is another reason people stay longer. Every patient is different and how they react to the surgery determines how long they stay in the hospital.
Typically, it takes between 4-6 before you are allowed to drive a car. You will be discharged home with an arm sling to keep your arm as immobile as possible. Physical therapy starts usually at the end of the first week to help you regain strength and mobility without damaging the repairs to your shoulder. By week six you should be able to participate in activities that require active shoulder movements.