Should I Have Shoulder Surgery?

Are you asking yourself, " Should I have shoulder surgery ?"
Read on...

Whether or not you should have shoulder surgery is a million dollar question for all individuals suffering from some form of shoulder problem. Let us try to arrive at a consensus.

Rotator Cuff Tear

Rotator cuff tear is characterised by pain, reduced range of mobility, and reduced power in the shoulder. While conservative management takes care of the pain to some extent, sometimes the range and power of movements can only be improved by surgical repair. So, if you are suffering from decreased range and power of movements, consider yourself a candidate for surgical intervention.

If you are suffering from pain for more than 12 months with conservative management, if the precipitating event is acute trauma or if the tear is a large one (3 cm or more), you can straightaway opt for surgery without going in to conservative management at all.

If you are involved in elite sport, and an MRI has shown that you have a rotator cuff tear, it is likely that keyhole surgery will be recommended.

Conversely, if you are a frail person, and can do away without using the arm much or if you are suffering from any general medical or cardiovascular disorders that can be dangerous to you when anesthesia or surgical cure is attempted, you can remain without surgery even when it is medically indicated.

Frozen Shoulder

You must remember that frozen shoulder is a self-limiting pathology, and it will tend to recover completely within one to three years. If you can manage with decreased range of mobility and pain, or with using exercises and physiotherapy, you can defer surgery. On the other hand, if you are a sports person or actively require a functioning arm, and are not responding to physio, then opt for manipulation under anesthetic.

Shoulder Arthritis

This is a degenerative disease from which there is no going back. If conservative management fails, surgery is the option. Irrespective of the age, surgery is recommended in people suffering from prolonged severe pain and severely limited movements, provided they can safely withstand anesthesia and do not have medical conditions adversely affecting the outcome of surgery. Of course, arthritis can be severe or it can be mild, and if its mild, use exercises to correct posture and improve shoulder position.


Fractures involving the humerus close to the shoulder joint will need surgery if the broken bone fragments are separated from one another beyond an acceptable distance. Surgery involves fixing the humerus with pins, screws, plates or wires. Sometimes, if the bone cannot be salvaged by above means, shoulder joint replacement is done. Here you do not have much choice but to go by the medical recommendation.

Fractures of the scapula are most often managed conservatively. But if you sustain fracture displacing the glenoid cavity, acromion process in the danger of predisposing you to impingement syndrome or involving the neck of the scapula affecting the angulation, you will be asked to undergo surgery.

Shoulder Impingement Syndrome

Here surgery is usually indicated if exercises and physiotherapy fails. Buy my book

“Exercise your Shoulder Pain-Free” as this will help you improve or cure this incredibly common condition.