Shoulder impingement syndrome is a medical condition wherein the patient experiences mild to sharp pain in his shoulders and finds it difficult to move, elevate, and place the hand behind his back. It occurs when the rotator cuff that supports the shoulder joint muscles, gets trapped and inflamed by the front edge of the acromion, which is the bony prominence located on top of the shoulder blade.
This condition is fairly common in athletes, who need to repeatedly move their arms over their head for throwing some objects, like a ball. The condition needs to be treated at the earliest, as it may further lead to complications such as impaired joint mobility, frozen shoulder, a tear in rotator cuff, shoulder bursitis, and enervating loss of strength.
When you visit a doctor, he will begin the treatment with activity modification (physiotherapy), prescribing painkillers, and recommending strength training exercises. He will ask you to take rest as much as possible. However, if you fail to get relief with these treatment measures, the doctor will consider a surgery as the last resort.
The aim of surgery is to relieve the impact and create more space for the acromion. By doing so, the humeral head moves freely in the sub-acromial space and makes lifting of the arm possible without pain and discomfort. The most common treatment is known as sub-acromial decompression. It can be performed in two ways: arthroscopic and open.
Arthroscopic Technique: When surgery is done arthroscopically, 2 or 3 small cuts are made through the skin on the shoulder. A fiber optic scope, which is connected to a television camera, is inserted inside to examine the affected joint. The surgeon will remove the parts of bone and soft tissue to create more space for the acromion.
Open Technique: When surgery is done using this technique, the doctor makes an incision in the front part of the shoulder. He can then directly see the acromion and rotator cuff through this incision. He removes the anterior part of the acromion along with a few bursal tissues. Many surgeons prefer to use this method, as it allows them to treat various other ailments like acromioclavicular arthritis, partial rotator cuff tear, and biceps tendonitis, if present.
After you have recovered completely from the effects of the anesthetic, you will be asked to be physically active and mobile, as it is necessary to prevent joint stiffness and other complications such as deep vein thrombosis. You will be asked to take strolls and perform some gentle post-operative workouts. You will be doing exercises under the supervision of a physical therapist. When there's considerable recovery, you will be discharged after 24-36 hours. Generally, you become eligible for discharge when you are comfortably mobile, and are able to eat and drink normally.
At home, you will have to wear light clothes, use a support sling, and take mild painkillers. After a couple of weeks, you will go through a progressive exercise regimen for the upper limb. The surgeon will evaluate your joint for stability and range of movement, after 6-7 weeks. This is how surgery rehabilitation takes place.
You can expect to recover completely in 4-5 months. This time period is not standard as it differs from person to person in accordance with one's natural healing and recuperation ability. The procedure cost depends upon the location of the clinic, experience of the surgeon, and severity of the ailment. Therefore, research well before seeking surgical treatment.
Some of the complications of this procedure include infection at the wounded area, damage to the nerves, and temporary or permanent loss of flexibility of the blood vessels in the affected area. You need to follow all the instructions given by your doctor properly. This will protect you from complications.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.