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Shoulder Surgery


We rely heavily on our shoulders as we go about our daily lives. Whether throwing a ball, paddling a canoe, lifting a child or just pushing a lawn mower, our shoulders play a large part in our activities.

Am I Candidate for Shoulder Surgery?

Because the ball of the upper arm is larger than the socket of the shoulder, it is easily susceptible to injury and discomfort. Your doctor may recommend shoulder surgery if you suffer from one of the following problems:

  • Arthritis
  • Bursitis
  • Dislocated shoulder joint
  • Broken or fractured shoulder bone
  • Frozen or stiff shoulder
  • Impingement syndrome
  • Rotator cuff tear
  • Separation of the collarbone ligaments from the shoulder blade
  • Shoulder instability
  • Sprain
  • Strains
  • Tendonitis

Dignity Health’s Sacramento orthopedic specialists offer two types of shoulder surgery:

  • Arthroscopic shoulder surgery
  • Open shoulder surgery

What is Arthroscopic Shoulder Surgery?

Arthroscopic shoulder surgery involves using a small camera to monitor the shoulder during surgery. Our surgeons often use arthroscopic surgery to repair:

  • Impingement
  • Torn rotator cuffs
  • Stretched capsules
  • Torn labrum

It can also provide relief to arthritis sufferers.

During the procedure, your surgeon makes a small incision near the shoulder joint. A small camera attached to a video monitor is inserted into the joint. Your doctor pumps saline solution into the shoulder to expand it, aiding with visualization and controlling bleeding.

The surgeon will make one to three additional incisions to insert other instruments, which may include a blunt hook to pull on tissues, a shaver to remove damaged or unwanted tissues and a burr to remove bone. At the end of your arthroscopic shoulder surgery, the fluid is drained from the shoulder, the incisions are closed and a dressing is applied.

For this procedure, you will be put under general anesthesia. A nerve block may also be used to numb your shoulder and arm to help reduce pain after surgery.

Learn more about arthroscopy.

What is Open Shoulder Surgery?

Open surgery is used for partial or total shoulder replacement. During this procedure, your surgeon replaces the ball (partial replacement) or both the ball and the socket (total replacement).

An incision about six inches long is made from your collarbone to your arm. Once the new joint is in place, your surgeon will close the incision with surgical staples or sutures.

What to Expect After Shoulder Surgery

Recovery from open or arthroscopic shoulder surgery can take one to six months, depending on the extent of the surgery. You may be given medications to control the pain and will likely need a sling for the first few weeks. For many procedures, physical therapy may be needed to help you regain the full motion and strength of your shoulder.

Though there is minimal risk involved with shoulder surgery, there are some risks and possible complications as with any surgery. These include:

  • Stiffness or ongoing pain in your shoulder
  • Bleeding or blood clots
  • Infection
  • Damage to nerves or blood vessels
  • Reaction to anesthesia

If you're interested in open or arthroscopic shoulder surgery, Sacramento's Dignity Health Orthopedics team can help.

If you think orthopedic surgery may be the solution for your pain, call Dignity Health in Sacramento at 916.851.2511 to request a consultation today or request an appointment online.

Time to See a Doctor?

Say goodbye to joint pain. After answering a few simple questions, you'll know whether you need a little more rest or whether it's time to make an appointment. Get started now.