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Shoulder News

Making Sense of Thermal Surgery for Injured Shoulders

Thermal capsulorraphy uses heat to repair torn and stretched tissues in a joint capsule. It can be as effective as traditional surgery at stabilizing loose shoulder joints. The only hitch is that heat can injure nerve sensors in the joint.

Some of nerves inteh shoulder are used to sense position and movement, providing a "sixth sense." This sixth sense is called proprioception. Doctors have assumed that thermal capsulorraphy damages these sensors. This in turn would make it harder to recover full use of the shoulder.

These researchers tested that theory. They selected 20 patients who had thermal capsulorraphy to fix an unstable shoulder. All had good results from surgery. At least six months later, the patients went through several tests of proprioception. The tests involved being blindfolded and then having to copy certain shoulder and arm movements. Both shoulders were tested in all patients.

To their surprise, researchers found that sensations of position and movement were equal in the injured and uninjured shoulders. They even found that the injured shoulders were actually better in certain types of tests. Researchers suggested some reasons for these surprisingly good results: the process of rehabilitation, the healing properties of heat, and the new stability of the repaired joint capsule.


Scott M. Lephart, PhD, ATC, et al. Shoulder Proprioception and Function Following Thermal Capsulorraphy. In Arthroscopy. September 2002. Vol. 18. No. 7. Pp. 770-778.

10/31/2002

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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