Shoulder Surgeries Explained

  • Added:
    Feb 14, 2014
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The Warm Shoulder
The Warm Shoulder
Photo by Goldring

The shoulder can sustain a variety of injuries and that is why shoulder surgeons are in high demand. Shoulders can be damaged from falls, auto accidents, sports injuries, repetitive use for an extended period and pulling, pushing or lifting more weight than the shoulder can bear. The bones can break and crack and the tendons and ligaments can pull or tear.

Rotator Cuff Tear

The rotator cuff is a combination of tendons and muscles that connect the scapula to the upper arm. Damage to this supporting structure can be partial, which is generally treated conservatively. A complete tear in the rotator cuff will necessitate a visit to one of several shoulder surgeons in your area. Many times, the tear is repaired with arthroscopic surgery which requires two to three incisions for the repair tools and a camera. If the damage is too extensive, the shoulder surgeon will have to make a traditional incision in the skin to give the surgeon access to the detached tissue which will then be reattached and repaired. With the shoulder open, the doctor can also see if there are any other problems like bone spurs which can damage the rotator cuff.


Fractures to the shoulder area can be to the collar bone and the upper arm (humerus) which are common injuries seen in sports. The collar bone is often treated without surgery unless there is acromioclavicular joint separation or a severe displaced fracture of the acromioclavicular joint which is the bone on top of the shoulder that allows the arm to move up and down. In such cases, the shoulder surgeon will make an incision and repair the displacement or fracture with pins and plates and reconstruct the ligaments so the scapula and collar bone are once again attached.

Fractures of the upper arm may also require surgery if the fragmented ends of the break are displaced. These injuries often occur when falling with an outstretched arm and are a particular risk of the elderly with osteoarthritis. If the fracture is too severe, a complete joint replacement may be required. If not, the shoulder surgeon will open the arm, place the two fragmented ends together and secure them to each other with screws, pins or plates.

Shoulder Dislocations

Dislocation of the ball and socket joint occur most frequently with repetitive use of the shoulder ligaments or from a sudden injury. If the ball comes out of the socket frequently, surgery may be required to give stability to the supporting structures that hold the joint together. Because the dislocation is caused by the tearing or stretching of the soft tissues that hold the ball in the socket, these soft tissues have to be repaired if surgery is required. If it is something that happens during some trauma, the E.R. can generally put the ball back into the socket; although, some people have such pain that they must have general anesthesia before the relocation can occur.

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If you suffer from chronic pain in the shoulder due to the repetitive use of your arm or because of trauma, seek care. If the pain is severe or you are unable to move your arm or rotate it completely, it will probably be necessary for you to see a shoulder surgeon to diagnose the problem and operate if necessary. If you are Phoenix resident, you should visit this website - Shoulder Surgeons Phoenix.

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