Shoulder Instability Surgery

There are various options for treating shoulder instability, depending upon the severity and type of instability.

  1. Arthroscopic surgery: This is a minimally invasive surgery where small incisions are made around the shoulder, and a small camera (arthroscope) is used to view the inside of the joint. Surgeons then repair the damaged structures using specialised tools.
  2. Open surgery: This involves a larger incision and is used for more complex cases. The surgeon repairs the damaged ligaments and may perform a bone graft if needed.
  3. Latarjet procedure: This is typically done in cases where there is a significant bone loss. A piece of bone from elsewhere in the body is transferred to the shoulder to prevent it from dislocating again.

Expected Surgery Outcome

The main aim of shoulder instability surgeries is to restore stability to the shoulder, relieve pain, and improve function. Following surgery, a majority of patients experience significant relief from instability and are able to return to their normal activity levels.

Potential surgery complications and risks

As with any surgery, complications can occur. These may include infection, damage to surrounding structures, and stiffness of the shoulder joint. Additionally, despite a successful surgery, some patients may continue to experience shoulder instability.

Risks

  • Infection: All surgeries carry some risk of infection. However, this risk is minimised through the use of sterile techniques and prophylactic antibiotics.
  • Nerve damage: The brachial plexus nerves located near the shoulder could potentially be at risk during surgery. Damage to these nerves can result in numbness or weakness in the arm.
  • Recurrent instability: Despite successful surgery, some patients may continue to experience episodes of shoulder instability.
  • Stiffness: There is a risk that the shoulder joint may become stiff post surgery, impairing range of motion.

Recovery after surgery

Post-operatively, the patient will likely be placed in a sling to help protect the surgical repair. Physiotherapy will begin a few days to weeks after surgery, focusing initially on gentle motion exercises and gradually progressing to strengthening exercises. The recovery process varies between individuals, but most patients can expect to return to normal activities within 3 to 6 months post surgery. Regular follow-ups with the surgeon will be scheduled to monitor the progress of recovery.