24 July 2017,

what to expect after shoulder arthroscopy

Nonoperative methods such as physical therapy, medication and rest are almost always used as first-line treatments for shoulder issues. However, sometimes these options do not succeed in relieving a patient’s symptoms. In these instances, a minimally invasive procedure called shoulder arthroscopy is often prescribed. As with any surgical procedure, patients should be aware of exactly what shoulder arthroscopy entails, as well as what to expect after shoulder arthroscopy.

During this procedure, an orthopedic surgeon makes two or three small incisions in the patient’s shoulder so that he can insert a small tube called an arthroscope as well as any other instruments needed for the surgery. Attached to the arthroscope is a camera that projects an enlarged view of the inside of the patient’s shoulder onto a TV screen so the surgeon can clearly see what needs to be done to repair it. In most cases, this surgical procedure is performed in an outpatient setting and takes about an hour to complete.

For many common shoulder conditions, shoulder arthroscopy has been shown to be a low-risk solution offering many benefits in instances where nonoperative methods do not adequately resolve a patient’s symptoms. Among the issues shoulder arthroscopy can be used to treat are:

  • – Rotator cuff tears
  • – Tendonitis
  • – Shoulder instability
  • – Impingement
  • – Labral tears
  • – Arthritis
  • – Bursitis


If you have been diagnosed with one of these conditions and conservative treatment methods have not worked for you, shoulder arthroscopy may be the next step in your care.

What to Expect After Shoulder Arthroscopy

As with any surgery, it’s important to know what to expect after shoulder arthroscopy before committing to this procedure. Depending on your specific type of surgery, you may be required to wear a sling while your shoulder heals. If a sling is needed, you’ll be given specific instructions on how long to keep it on.

In the days following your surgery, you can expect to experience a bit of pain and swelling in your shoulder. To make the recovery process more comfortable, your surgeon will most likely prescribe ice, rest and anti-inflammatories. For the first 3-5 days after surgery, you’ll need to keep the area dry and covered with the bandage put on by the surgeon. After that, you should be able to use regular Band-Aids and shower as normal.

How long is recovery after shoulder arthroscopy? This will depend on the specific repairs that have been made to your shoulder as well as your body’s natural healing rate. Generally speaking, patients typically resume light exercise within one week and return to their normal activities after a few weeks or months.

Schedule an Appointment to Discuss Your Shoulder Care

Now that you know what to expect after shoulder arthroscopy and how long recovery is after shoulder arthroscopy, it’s time to speak with Dr. Stephen R. Soffer about whether this procedure is a viable solution for your shoulder pain.

As a board-certified shoulder arthroscopy specialist, Dr. Soffer will offer you individualized care and use cutting-edge techniques to help you resolve your symptoms. To schedule an appointment to discuss your care with him, call our 24-hour hotline at 610-375-4949. We look forward to seeing you in our office.

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