What is Subacromial Decompression?
This surgical procedure is performed arthroscopically. During the procedure, small instruments are used to remove the inflamed subacromial bursa and get rid of the irritated tissue which is generating the pain. If there is evidence of impingement, the area that has bone spurs and is causing the impingement will be removed. This is also performed arthroscopically using a camera and small motorized instruments. The shoulder will then be taken through a range of motion while looking through the camera to verify that all areas of impingement and bursitits have been removed. In some cases there may also be degeneration and bone spurring where the acromion meets the clavicle (collarbone) called the acromioclaviclar (AC) joint. If this is seen and the patient has pain here during physical exam, the AC joint bone spurs and areas of degeneration will also be removed as part of the arthroscopic procedure. Arthroscopic subacromial decompression, acromioplasty, and AC joint resection are usually performed on an outpatient basis.
Recovery Following Subacromial Decompression
Following this surgical procedure, patients are often able to resume normal activities fairly quickly. A short course of physical therapy will be prescribed after surgery in order to regain full function of the shoulder. A sling is used for approximately 1 week after surgery. Range of motion can begin immediately and a full recovery can be anticipated around 2 months. Most patients are able to return to their previous activities with significant improvements in pain.
For additional information on subacromial bursitis, impingement, and other conditions that cause shoulder pain, or for additional resources on subacromial decompression, please contact the office of Dr. Robert Boykin, orthopedic shoulder surgeon serving Asheville, Arden, Fletcher and surrounding North Carolina communities.