Question:I'm going to have an arthroscopic release of a frozen shoulder next week. Can you tell me what is done during this operation?
The basic steps to this operation are the same from patient to patient. There may be some small differences based on what the doctor finds during the procedure.
First you will be anesthetized or put to sleep (some patients have a nerve block and remain awake but feel no pain). The doctor will gently mobilize the shoulder joint. This means while lying on your back, your arm will be lifted and rotated inwardly. This shows the doctor how the back (posterior) half of the joint capsule is moving (or not moving if it's stuck or bound down).
Then the arm is gently moved out to the side away from the body. This motion is called abduction. Next the arm is rotated outward. This is done first with the elbow bent and then with the elbow straight with the arm down at the side. This gives the doctor information about the front (anterior) half of the joint capsule.
In the final step, the doctor uses a special tool (arthroscope) to look inside the joint for any areas of scar tissue, inflammation, or tears in the capsule. The scar tissue will be released and any rough spots shaved smooth. The doctor may cut and remove the joint capsule from the front and the back. Any other damage will be repaired and space made for all structures to move freely.
Most patients are seen in physical therapy right away. Rehab often continues after discharge from the hospital. A home program is essential.Gianluca Castellarin, MD, et al. Manipulation and Arthroscopy Under General Anesthesia and Early Rehabilitative Treatment for Frozen Shoulders. In Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. August 2004. Vol. 85. No. 8. Pp. 1236-1240.
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