1. How common is the Shoulder problem seen in general population?

The most movable joint in the body, the shoulder, is also one of the most potentially unstable joints. As a result, it is the site of many common problems. They include sprains, strains, dislocations, separations, tendinitis, bursitis, torn rotator cuffs, frozen shoulder, fractures, and arthritis.

2. What are the common problems seen in the Shoulder Joint?

In younger people, the problem is usually trauma related and it can be a feeling of instability or repeated dislocations which can cause pain and prevent the person from pursuing his profession or sporting activity. The shoulder joint frequently comes out of its socket which causes acute pain to the patient and requires medical help to put it back.

In older people, the problems are due to degenerative tears of tendons (Rotator Cuff tears) or bony overgrowth (Impingement), Frozen Shoulder or Arthritis which causes pain on movement or even at rest. The pain can sometimes be so severe that it even disturbs the sleep of the patient.

3. What are different treatment modalities for Shoulder Problem?

The treatment varies according to the problem affecting the shoulder joint. In minor injuries, Sprains, Tendinitis or most cases of Frozen shoulder, the treatment is usually medicines and exercises explained by the Doctor.

Problems such as Repeated Shoulder Dislocations or Complete Tendon ruptures require repair which can be done Arthroscopically (Minimally invasive Keyhole Technique).

Severe Arthritis of the Shoulder joint requires Shoulder Replacement which gives excellent results.

4. How effective are Shoulder Surgeries?

Though most of the problems of the shoulder joint can be managed with medicines and exercises, some problems can be tackled only by surgery. Previously, surgeries were done using open technique which frequently led to stiffness & pain later on. But now newer techniques have emerged where joint is accessed by small keyhole incisions (Arthroscopy) through which most of the problems can be tackled. This has revolutionized the understanding and management of shoulder problems.

5. What are the advantages of Arthroscopic surgery of Shoulder over open surgery?

Arthroscopic surgery is a Technique where the surgeon makes very small holes through which a camera and instruments are inserted into the joint to see the problem and repair it (Fig).

Arthroscopy causes minimal blood loss as compared to open surgery. As it is done through only tiny keyhole cuts as compared to open surgery where the whole joint has to be opened, the recovery is much faster. This results in less pain and stiffness, fewer complications, decreased length of hospitalization. The small incisions are closed by single stitch and most of patients are discharged next day of surgery and have faster recovery times.

6. Is there a treatment for severe arthritis of the shoulder too?

In severe arthritis of the Shoulder joint, where the cartilage is totally destroyed and medicines & exercises have failed, Replacement of the Shoulder joint gives excellent results both in terms of pain relief as well as functions. Now newer implants (Reverse Shoulder) have also come which can restore the Shoulder function even in elderly patients where all the tendons have been ruptured.