(336) 716-8091
Book Appointment

Arthroscopic Shoulder Stabilization

Arthroscopic Stabilization for Shoulder Instability Overview

One of the most complex joints in the human body, the shoulder is formed by the humerus (upper arm bone) fitting in to the scapula (shoulder blade) in a ball and socket formation. A dislocated shoulder and anterior shoulder instability occurs when the humerus and scapula are pulled apart from a fall, sports injury or other trauma. In more severe “unstable” shoulder cases, a surgical procedure may be needed to repair ligament and joint surface damage and to reduce the risk of arthritis and re-dislocations. Shoulder surgeon Dr. Brian Waterman is highly experienced at performing arthroscopic stabilization for shoulder instability, a shoulder arthroscopy procedure.

A dislocated shoulder and anterior shoulder instability can be a painful condition for many patients. At the time of dislocation, the surrounding ligaments and cartilage can become damaged as well, including the rotator cuff, labrum, joint capsule or glenohumeral ligaments.

For any shoulder dislocation, no matter the severity, the initial treatment is to put the ball back into the socket, or reduce the shoulder. After the shoulder is reduced, Dr. Waterman will perform a series of X-rays to look for any bone injuries and to confirm the shoulder joint is back in its original place. If the injury is severe, a surgical procedure may be recommended to provide full range of motion and stability back to the joint.

When surgery is needed, Dr. Waterman will recommend arthroscopic stabilization for shoulder instability in many cases. Many patients who undergo this shoulder arthroscopy procedure for anterior shoulder instability have exceptional results following surgery and rehabilitation. They typically experience less pain, less complications and a quicker recovery time.

During the shoulder arthroscopy procedure, Dr. Waterman will confirm the degree of anterior shoulder instability. He will then use a small camera and thin surgical instruments to inspect and repair the damaged areas. Suture anchors are used to reattach loose or torn ligaments to the glenoid bone. These sutures will restore the joint’s anatomy to its normal position and “tighten” the shoulder joint.

If a patient experiences bone loss, a dislocation that cannot be put back into place or long-standing anterior shoulder instability, open surgery may be recommended over shoulder arthroscopy.
Recovery and Rehabilitation after Arthroscopic Stabilization for Shoulder Instability

After anterior shoulder instability is corrected with shoulder arthroscopy, it is critical that the arm remains immobile in a sling for a certain period of time determined by Dr. Waterman, typically three to six weeks. Pain medications and ice packs are recommended in many cases to help alleviate pain as the joint heals.

Patients are expected to begin their rehabilitation program following shoulder arthroscopy. Rehabilitation commonly consists of gentle passive range of motion followed by active motion, strengthening exercises and full return to activities. Patients will visit Dr. Waterman and his team various times throughout recovery so he can assess the joint and therapy progression.

At a Glance

Dr. Brian Waterman, MD

  • Chief & Fellowship Director, Sports Medicine, Wake Forest
  • Team Physician, Wake Forest University, Chicago White Sox
  • Military affiliation/Decorated military officer and surgeon
  • Learn more

End of content dots