Subacromial Shoulder Pain Surgery

There are several surgical options available for treating subacromial shoulder pain, and the choice depends on the patient’s specific condition, severity of pain, and overall health.

  1. Arthroscopic Decompression: The surgeon makes small incisions around the shoulder and inserts an arthroscope (a small camera) to guide the operation. The surgeon then removes or trims the acromion bone to relieve compression in the subacromial space, reducing pain and improving mobility.
  2. Open Acromioplasty: In more severe cases, the surgeon may opt for an open surgery. A larger incision is made to allow the surgeon more access to the shoulder joint. The surgeon then removes a portion of the acromion bone to alleviate pressure in the subacromial space.
  3. Rotator Cuff Repair: If the subacromial pain is due to a torn rotator cuff, the surgeon may repair the tendons and muscles during surgery. This can involve open or arthroscopic surgery.

Expected Surgery Outcome

The primary goal of subacromial shoulder pain surgery is to relieve pain and restore function to the shoulder. The majority of patients experience significant pain relief and improved mobility after recovery from surgery.

Potential surgery complications and risks

As with any surgery, complications can occur. These may include infection, bleeding, and damage to nearby nerves or vessels. There may also be risks related to anaesthesia.


  • Infection: Any surgical procedure carries a risk of infection, although preventative measures are taken to minimise this risk.
  • Nerve damage: There’s a small chance that nerves near your shoulder could be accidentally injured during surgery.
  • Stiffness or Loss of Motion: Some patients may experience stiffness or loss of range of motion after surgery.
  • Recurrent Symptoms: In some cases, pain and other symptoms may return after surgery if the underlying cause of the condition is not fully addressed.

Recovery after surgery

Postoperative protocols typically involve a structured physiotherapy program aimed at regaining shoulder strength and mobility. The recovery time varies depending on the complexity of the surgery and the patient’s individual health condition, but typically ranges from a few weeks to several months. Following the recommended therapy regimen is crucial for optimal recovery and to prevent recurrence of symptoms.