Accessibility Tools

Shoulder Reconstruction Surgery

What is Shoulder Reconstruction?

Shoulder reconstruction is a surgical procedure performed in patients with shoulder instability to improve stability, restore function and prevent recurrent dislocations of the shoulder joint.

What is Shoulder Instability?

Shoulder instability occurs when the structures that surround the shoulder joint such as the ligaments, capsule and cartilage become overstretched or injured. It can lead to a partial or complete dislocation of the shoulder joint i.e. the head of the upper arm bone (humerus) is forced out of the shoulder socket (glenoid). Shoulder instability most commonly occurs as a result of an injury to a part of the shoulder joint called the labrum. The labrum is a ring of fibrous cartilage that surrounds the glenoid and stabilizes the shoulder joint.

Shoulder instability may be caused by injury, falling on outstretched hand, repetitive overhead sports such as basketball, volleyball or weightlifting. Patients with shoulder instability may have severe pain, swelling, popping or grinding sound, partial or complete dislocation, loss of sensation or partial paralysis and loss of function.

If conservative treatment such as immobilization, prescription medicines, physical therapy, closed reduction or manipulation and occupational therapy fails to relieve the shoulder instability, your surgeon may recommend reconstruction surgery.

Procedure for Shoulder Reconstruction

Shoulder reconstruction surgery involves repair of the torn or stretched ligaments so that they are better able to hold the shoulder joint in place. During the surgery, the torn labrum is reattached back to the shoulder socket with the help of special anchors and the overstretched capsules and ligaments are tightened.

Shoulder reconstruction surgery can be done arthroscopically that involves use of smaller incisions and tiny instruments to perform the repair. Some patients may need an open surgical procedure which involves a larger incision over the shoulder to perform the repair.

Recovery After Shoulder Reconstruction

Following surgery, your arm is kept in a sling for four to six weeks to facilitate healing. Your physiotherapist will show you use of the sling and instruct on simple exercises. You may have slight pain after surgery for which pain medications are prescribed. Apply ice packs on the shoulder to help reduce the swelling. You can use a pillow under your shoulder while lying in bed. Avoid heavy lifting and driving during the first 6 weeks. You will be given specific instructions regarding activity and a rehabilitation program of exercise and strengthening.

Risks of Shoulder Reconstruction Surgery

Complications are rare after shoulder reconstruction surgery. Some of the common complications include infection, stiffness or restricted movement, nerve and vessel injury, failure of the procedure and side effects of general anesthesia.