The shoulder joint is responsible for a great deal of mobility in the arm. Unfortunately, this mobility also makes it susceptible to a number of different types of injuries and conditions. Shoulder pain can be extremely debilitating, and if conservative treatment methods aren't offering relief, you may begin considering shoulder surgery as a solution.
But there are so many types of shoulder surgery, and all shoulder surgeries have different goals and results. How do you know which is the right surgical procedure for you? It all comes down to understanding the standard surgical procedures for your specific condition and what kind of results you're hoping to achieve.
The team of orthopedic surgery specialists at is passionate about giving patients minimally-invasive surgery solutions to their shoulder pain. We offer a number of to patients in order to help them find relief from pain and improve their overall function.
Here are some important things to know about shoulder surgery, as well as a list of some of the most common shoulder surgeries:
How Do Shoulder Injuries Happen?
The shoulder is a ball and socket joint. This means that the upper arm bone fits into a round compartment known as the shoulder socket, located in the shoulder blade. The shoulder joint is held together by muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
There are a number of different ways that these structures can become injured or damaged. Sometimes one of the tendons surrounding the shoulder joint becomes weak or frayed. This is called tendonitis. Other times, the cartilage that covers the shoulder socket (known as the labrum) can become torn or damaged. This is referred to as a shoulder dislocation.
Arthritis is also a common cause of shoulder pain and stiffness. Arthritis occurs when the cartilage surrounding the joints breaks down, causing the bones to rub together. This can happen due to age, injury, or overuse.
Common Types of Shoulder Injuries
Shoulder problems come in all shapes and sizes. Here are some of the most common shoulder injuries and conditions that we see at GPOA:
- Tendonitis: This is a condition in which the tendons surrounding the shoulder joint become inflamed or irritated. Tendonitis can be caused by overuse, repetitive motions, or acute injury. The most common type of tendonitis is rotator cuff tendonitis, which affects the tendons of the rotator cuff muscles.
- Bursitis: Bursitis is a condition in which the small, fluid-filled sacs (known as bursae) that cushion the shoulder joint become irritated or inflamed. Bursitis can be caused by overuse, repetitive motions, or acute injury. The most common type of bursitis is subacromial bursitis, which affects the bursae located under the acromion (the bone that forms the roof of the shoulder joint).
- Arthritis: Arthritis occurs when the cartilage surrounding the joints breaks down, causing the bones to rub together. This can happen due to age, injury, or overuse. The most common types of arthritis that affect the shoulder are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Frozen shoulder: Frozen shoulder (also known as adhesive capsulitis) is a condition in which the connective tissue surrounding the shoulder joint becomes stiff and thickened. This can cause the shoulder joint to freeze in place, making it difficult to move. Frozen shoulder is most common in people aged 40-60, and women are more likely to develop frozen shoulder than men.
- Rotator cuff tear: The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint. A rotator cuff tear occurs when one of these tendons becomes torn or detached from the bone. Rotator cuff tears can be caused by overuse, repetitive motions, or acute injury.
- Shoulder dislocation: A shoulder dislocation occurs when the ball of the upper arm bone pops out of the shoulder socket. Shoulder dislocations can be caused by trauma, such as a fall or car accident.
Common Types of Shoulder Surgeries
The good news is that there are a number of different shoulder procedures that can help to relieve pain and improve function. Here are some of the most common shoulder procedures that we offer at GPOA:
Shoulder Replacement Surgery
- Total shoulder replacement: In a total shoulder replacement, both the ball and socket are replaced with artificial implants. This is the most common type of shoulder replacement surgery.
- Partial shoulder replacement: In a partial shoulder replacement, only the ball is replaced with an artificial implant. The socket is left intact.
- Reverse total shoulder replacement: In a reverse shoulder replacement, the ball and socket are switched. The artificial ball is attached to the socket, and the socket is attached to the upper arm bone. This type of surgery is typically used for patients with severe rotator cuff tears that cannot be repaired.
A typical shoulder replacement is reserved for patients with advanced arthritis or irreparable damage in the shoulder that has not responded to other treatment options.
Rotator Cuff Repair Surgery
Rotator cuff repair surgery is a procedure in which torn rotator cuff tendons are reattached to the bone. If you sustain a rotator cuff tear, it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible, as the tendons can begin to pull away from the bone if they are not repaired with shoulder rotator cuff tear surgery or more conservative methods. Rotator cuff tears can be caused by overuse, repetitive motions, or acute injury.
Decompression surgery is the standard treatment for shoulder impingement syndrome, a condition in which the shoulder joint is not able to move as freely as it should due to inflamed tissue pressing on it. In decompression surgery, the surgeon removes the bone and scar tissue that are pressing on the rotator cuff tendons and causing impingement. Decompression surgery can also be used to treat other conditions, such as bursitis or arthritis.
Capsular release surgery is a procedure in which the surgeon makes an incision in the shoulder capsule, the connective tissue that surrounds the shoulder joint. This type of surgery is typically used to treat frozen shoulder, a condition in which the joint capsule becomes thickened and stiff, causing the shoulder to “freeze” in place.
Shoulder Labrum Surgery
The labrum is a ring of cartilage that surrounds the shoulder socket. A tear in the labrum can cause shoulder instability, pain, and clicking. Labral repair surgery is a procedure in which the surgeon reattaches the torn labrum to the bone. This type of surgery is typically used for patients with shoulder instability or a dislocated shoulder to restore shoulder stability.
Arthroscopic shoulder surgery is a minimally invasive procedure in which the surgeon inserts a small camera, called an arthroscope, into the shoulder joint through tiny incisions. 'Shoulder arthroscopy' really refers to any type of arthroscopic surgery that is performed on the shoulder joint, but it is most commonly used to treat rotator cuff tears, shoulder impingement syndrome, SLAP tear, and other conditions.
Arthroscopic shoulder surgery has a number of advantages over traditional open surgery, including a smaller surgical incision, less pain, shorter recovery times, and a lower risk of infection.
Visit the Best Shoulder Doctor in Pittsburgh
Ultimately, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon can help you determine the best course of treatment for your shoulder condition. However, it's important for patients to know their options in order to make the best possible decision for themselves.
Whether you are suffering from shoulder pain due to injury, overuse, or arthritis, the orthopaedic surgeons at can help. Our surgical team offers a full range of minimally-invasive shoulder surgery options to meet your needs and help you make a full recovery.