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What is subacromial decompression?

Subacromial decompression is an arthroscopic procedure to treat subacromial impingement. Arthroscopic Surgery is performed using instruments inserted through small incisions. Depending on the location of the inflammation and the extent of work that needs to be done, usually two to four small incisions are made. A video camera, about the size of a pencil, is  inserted into the shoulder. Another instrument called a shaver is inserted through another incision. The shaver is used to remove the inflamed bursa. Once the bursa is removed, the rotator cuff is inspected to look for any signs of a tear. The bone above the rotator cuff (the point of the shoulder) is called the acromion.  Many people with bursitis of the shoulder have a bone spur that forms on the undersurface of the acromion.

What is subacromial impingement?

Subacromial impingement or shoulder impingement occurs when the top outer edge of your shoulder blade, called the acromion, rubs against or impinges on the rotator cuff beneath it, causing pain and irritation.

What are symptoms of subacromial impingement?

  • Pain in the top and outer side of your shoulder.
  • Pain that worsens when you lift your arm up.
  • aching or pain at night, or a weakness in your arm.
  • Pain when your arms are extended above your head.
  • Pain and tenderness in the front of your shoulder.
  • Pain when lying on the affected side.
  • Pain or achiness at night, which affects your ability to sleep.
  • Pain when reaching behind your back, like reaching into a back pocket or zipping up a zipper.
  • Shoulder and/or arm weakness and stiffness. Symptoms usually develop gradually over weeks to months.

How does subacromial impingement occur?

Shoulder impingement syndrome is most commonly seen in individuals who are involved in sports and other activities with a lot of overhead rotational motion such as swimming, baseball, volleyball and tennis as well as activities such as window washing and painting. Shoulder impingement can also result from an injury, such as a fall onto an outstretched arm or directly onto the shoulder.

What is the recovery from subcromial decompression?

After Subacromial Decompression 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. Recovering your range of motion and strength are the number one goals after this surgery. 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.

The animation content provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any specific questions you may have regarding a medical condition or procedure.