Arthroscopic surgery is a method of surgery in which a small fibre-optic camera is used to allow your orthopaedic surgeon to see the internal workings of the shoulder joint. Dr Khumalo may advise this type of surgery after conducting a thorough physical examination and ordering x-rays. Arthroscopic shoulder surgery may be used prior to surgery for diagnosis or in conjunction with surgery for rotator cuff injuries, sports injuries, labrum tears, shoulder dislocation and removal of bone spurs.
Dr Khumalo will insert a small camera into your shoulder joint through puncture-like incisions once you are under general anaesthesia. Using this tiny camera, images will be displayed on a screen so that your orthopaedic surgeon may view the shoulder joint and damage that may have occurred. Using these small surgical tools, he may repair torn ligaments or tendons that may have occurred during a rotator cuff injury or a labral tear, by reattaching them to one another. He may also remove loose bone fragments and clean out the joint to repair impingement or fix dislocations of the shoulder. Due to the nature of this minimally invasive surgery, surgical equipment used is particularly small, which means that the recovery is less painful, and quicker than in traditional open surgery.
Depending on the severity of your shoulder injury as well as your current medical health and existing conditions, recovery after arthroscopic shoulder surgery will differ. In this way each surgery and recovery process is unique. You can expect to experience some pain and swelling for the next few weeks. You will be prescribed pain medication and ice to relieve the pain. Lying flat may pull on your shoulder and cause discomfort; thus you may be advised to sleep propped up in bed for the first days after surgery to prevent this. Dr Khumalo may also give you a sling or special immobilizer to wear to protect your shoulder during recovery. You will be able to return to normal activities with comfort only after full recovery, which may take up to 6 weeks. Until then, exercise and activity should be limited until strength and mobility returns. Your orthopaedic surgeon may advise you to have physiotherapy to help regain strength, mobility and coordination of the shoulder joint. How much physiotherapy you may need will depend on the specific shoulder surgery performed.