Shoulder decompression surgery

The Benefits of Shoulder Decompression Surgery

New research has shown that shoulder decompression surgery may help to eliminate shoulder pain caused by shoulder impingement syndrome. Revealed at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine annual meeting 2022, the findings suggest shoulder decompression could be beneficial in the treatment of rotator cuff tears.

Here, we look at the findings of the study, and delve into the benefits of shoulder decompression surgery.

Understanding the findings

The latest Canadian two-part study followed a total of 86 patients who were due to undergo a rotator cuff repair. They were split into two groups, with one undergoing the repair with shoulder decompression surgery, and the other without.

After 24 months, a follow up study was carried out, which included 57 of the initial 86 patients. This included 31 patients who didn’t undergo the shoulder decompression surgery, and 25 patients who did.

At the follow up, a clinical assessment, patient-reported outcomes, and the Western Ontario Rotator Cuff score was reviewed. The researchers discovered no real difference between the Western Ontario Rotator Cuff score in both groups. However, both did show a significant improvement compared to their pre-operative scores.

It was discovered that those who underwent shoulder decompression surgery were at a reduced risk of requiring revision surgery.

What is shoulder decompression surgery?

Shoulder decompression surgery is a procedure that aims to relieve shoulder pain caused by shoulder impingement syndrome. Also commonly referred to as Acromioplasty, or subacromial decompression, the surgery removes irritated, swollen soft tissue and bone spurs. This helps to widen the acromial space around the rotator cuff tendons.

The surgery is largely carried out using an arthroscopic method, and it helps to release the pressure from the inflamed rotator cuff. The procedure itself takes around an hour to complete, and it is typically carried out under general anaesthetic.

What are the benefits of shoulder decompression surgery?

As well as reducing the risk of revision surgery, shoulder decompression surgery provides excellent pain relief. Although the latest study reveals little difference between the pain relief experienced in those who do and don’t undergo the surgery, it is shown to be more effective when used.

As the procedure removes the inflamed ligament or bursa, it creates a lot more room within the acromial space. This allows the tendon of the rotator cuff to move around freely, helping to ease any swelling.

Like any keyhole surgery, the recovery for shoulder decompression surgery is faster and less problematic than open surgical methods. If your symptoms have not subsided after trying non-operative methods, shoulder decompression surgery will typically be recommended.

To find out if shoulder decompression surgery could help you to eliminate your shoulder pain, book a consultation with one of our leading shoulder experts today.