Subacromial Decompression

Subacromial decompression is a specific type of shoulder arthroscopy. It is used to treat sports injuries like impingement syndrome after conservative treatment has failed. This procedure is considered a "minor" shoulder surgery.

Subacromial decompression is used to increase the subacromial space, the area between the humerus and the acromion, and can relieve impingement syndrome symptoms of pain, popping, and numbness and tingling.

This surgery is the last resort for impingement syndrome and is usually only performed after several weeks or months of conservative rehabilitation.

Subacromial decompression is performed as an arthroscopic procedure. You will have two or three small incisions on the front, back, and side of your shoulder. Your surgeon will use a small camera and small tools to decompress the subacromial space. After determining the nature of your shoulder injury, surgeon will remove the subacromial bursa. This fluid filled sac is often inflammed and irritated. If you have had shoulder pain for a long time it may have accumulated scar tissue or be stiff and fibrotic.

Once the bursa is removed, they will shave down the underside of the acromion so that it is flat. If you have a hooked acromion, this will help to increase the space for the rotator cuff tendons.

The next step is to remove part of the coracoacromial ligament. This ligament is also an area of inflammation with impingement syndrome and may have scar tissue or fibrosis.

Your rotator cuff tendons may also be inspected to make sure there are no tears. You may have some fraying of these tendons or areas of wear that can be cleaned up.

After the decompression is complete, they will close your incisions with sutures or staples.

After surgery you will need some shoulder rehabilitation to regain your range of motion and strength. You may be given a sling to wear for comfort, or you may just be instructed to rest your shoulder.

Pendulum exercises and shoulder rolls are common exercises that you may be told to do at home. As with any surgery, make sure you follow your surgeon's instructions for your rehabilitation.

Recovering your range of motion and strength are the number one goals after this sugery. A full recovery usually takes 4-6 weeks, but varies for everyone. Sports activities like throwing may take 2-3 months to get back to normal.

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