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Shoulder News

The Incredible Shrinking Shoulder

Advances in medical technology are happening more and more quickly. Researchers are concerned that new treatment methods are being used before they are fully understood. Thermal capsulorrhaphy for the shoulder is one of the new methods in question.

With thermal capsulorrhaphy or heat shrinking, radiofrequency energy is applied shrink the tissue (capsule) around a joint. This makes a tighter, more stable joint. The treatment has been used for a variety of problems. Researchers suspect that doctors are using the treatment for many different problems because they don't really know what it does best. It's important to find the proper uses and limits of this procedure.

So far, results of thermal capsulorrhaphy for shoulder joints have been very positive. However, longer follow-up is needed to see how patients do later on. Studying the records of patients who had poor results can give clues about who should (or should not) have this procedure. One group of doctors did this review process with 106 patients who had thermal shrinkage of the shoulder joint.

The doctors found that patients who had previous shoulder operations and multiple dislocations did not have good results from thermal shrinkage. Most problems happened about six months after the procedure. It was unclear whether shoulders that were loose (unstable) in more than one direction were helped by thermal shrinkage.

When it comes to thermal shrinkage for the shoulder joint, some patients are better candidates than others. Patients who have had previous shoulder surgeries and multiple dislocations are less likely to benefit from this procedure. According to the authors, sports activity and looseness in more than one direction may also lead to poor results, though more research is needed.

Kyle Anderson, MD, et al. Risk Factors for Early Failure After Thermal Capsulorrhaphy. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. January/February 2002. Vol. 30. No. 1. Pp. 103-107.


*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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