Question:I had a heat treatment to shrink my shoulder about five years ago. It was pretty experimental then. I had a good result. Is this treatment still being used?
Thermal capsulorrhaphy is a heat treatment to the shoulder capsule to shrink the soft tissue. It's used most often for patients with shoulder instability after injury or chronic dislocations. A probe is placed inside the joint and heats the tissue up using radiofrequency energy.
The treatment may be losing favor. After 10 years of study, it looks like the long-term results aren't as good as expected. Studies show some patients end up with damage to the joint. The capsule around the joint can be completely destroyed instead of heated up to the point of shrinking and tightening up the capsule.
This type of damage is hard to repair. The tissue can't even hold together with stitches. Damage to the axillary nerve, which supplies the deltoid muscle in the arm, can also occur. Scientists are now turning their attention to other ways to treat shoulder instability.William N. Levine, MD, et al. Thermal Capsulorrhaphy. In Orthopedics. August 2004. Vol. 27. No. 8. Pp. 823-826.
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