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Shoulder surgery

From throwing a ball, putting away groceries or casting a fishing lure, your shoulder is the most mobile joint in your body. General wear-and-tear, overuse, or acute injury can can cause shoulder pain or limit movement.

Many shoulder problems can be treated successfully with anti-inflammatory medication and/or a physical therapy program. When medication and rehabilitation don’t relieve your symptoms, surgery may be recommended.


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What it is

Some of the more common shoulder surgeries include:


Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgery. Your surgeon makes tiny incisions and uses specialized instruments to fix tears or repair damage.

Torn rotator cuff repair

The rotator cuff is made up of muscles and tendons that help to rotate the your arm and stabilize your shoulder joint. If the rotator cuff is injured, there are a number of surgical options depending upon the size, depth and location of the tear. but is commonly performed arthroscopically.

Torn labral repair

If you have experienced a complete or partial dislocation of the shoulder joint, in which the ball pops out of the socket, you may have damaged a structure called the “labrum”.  At times this requires surgical repair to restore stability to the surgery.  This is most commonly performed arthroscopically.

Impingement surgery

Your shoulder’s acromion bone can rub against the tendon and bursa, causing irritation and pain. Impingement surgery is done to create more space above the rotator cuff tendons and/or to repair damaged tissue. 

Shoulder replacement

Shoulder replacement surgery replaces your damaged shoulder joint with artificial joint parts. In a total replacement, both the ball and socket of the joint are replaced. In a partial replacement, only one of two parts are replaced.

Reverse total shoulder replacement

In this technique, the deltoid muscle of your shoulder is used to provide function, rather than the rotator cuff muscle group. This procedure may be an option  if you have good deltoid strength, severe shoulder arthritis and have non-repairable rotator cuff tears.

Good for treating

  • Rotator cuff tears
  • Shoulder instability or dislocation
  • Impingement syndrome
  • Bursitis
  • Tendonitis
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Acute injury
  • Shoulder instability (dislocated shoulder)
  • Shoulder arthritis

What to expect

Once you’ve made the decision to have surgery, your doctor and his or her supporting staff will ensure you are well-prepared for the upcoming procedure. You’ll receive instructions on how to prepare for the operation, learn what to expect in the hospital or surgery center, and get helpful information on how to plan for recovery at home.

Good to know

  • You will be cared for by a team of compassionate physicians, nurses and therapists who use the most advanced tools and technology.
  • After your surgery, rehabilitation is provided by dedicated therapists who offer a full range of rehabilitation services in a location that is convenient for you.
  • Allina Health hospitals and outpatient surgery centers observe the highest standards of quality and best practices.

Related links

Reviewed by: L. Pearce McCarty, III, MD, orthopedic surgeon

First published: 5/31/2018

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