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Shoulder & elbow surgery

Assessment and treatment for your shoulder and elbow conditions

Whether dressing first thing in the morning or lifting a shopping bag into the car, we rely on our shoulders and elbows constantly each and every day

As a result, any problem in the shoulder or elbow can have a significant impact on normal life. You may quickly find yourself struggling to carry out many of your normal activities and tasks. If you’re an athlete, you could find you’re no longer able to compete at the level you’re used to. Shoulder pain might be waking you up at night, or stiffness in the joint may make it almost impossible to put a shirt on by yourself.

Long-term or severe pain, stiffness or weakness in a shoulder or elbow can have a big impact on your physical, mental and emotional health.

Here at The Blackheath Hospital, our experienced Consultants can help you get out of pain and stiffness and back to doing the things you enjoy once more.

Your shoulder and elbow joints provide a significant amount of movement, flexibility and strength in your upper body. If you notice a problem in either joint, early assessment, diagnosis and treatment can often be helpful in preventing further damage to the joint

While there are many things that can go wrong in a shoulder or elbow joint, some of the common reasons people visit us are for:

  • Rotator cuff tear – caused by an injury to the muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint.

  • Frozen shoulder – pain and stiffness in the shoulder that can continue for years in some cases.

  • Recurrent shoulder dislocation – a previous shoulder dislocation increases the likelihood of suffering another dislocation. Surgery may be needed to stabilize the joint.

  • Shoulder impingement – often causes pain or weakness in the arm

  • Tennis and Golfer’ elbow – overuse of the muscles in the forearm cause pain on the inside or outside of the elbow.

  • Arthritis in either the shoulder or elbow – the most common form of arthritis in the UK is osteoarthritis. It causes pain and stiffness in the joint.

  • A fracture in a shoulder or elbow – a previous fracture in either joint may require additional management or treatment if symptoms persist.

Whether you’re struggling with pain in your shoulder or weakness in your elbow, it can be helpful to meet with a Shoulder and Elbow Consultant for expert assessment and treatment advice.

It is always helpful to get a diagnosis in the early stages of a problem as it means treatment options can be discussed and started sooner.

When you first meet with your doctor here at The Blackheath Hospital, they’ll take your medical history and talk with you about the symptoms you’re experiencing. They may ask you questions like:

  • How long have you had these symptoms?
  • Was there an obvious cause (for example, did you have an impact on your shoulder while playing rugby)?
  • If you have pain, what type of pain is it?
  • Have your symptoms been getting worse over time?
  • What things are you no longer able to do as a result of your symptoms?
  • What (if any) treatments have been tried up to this point?

They will carry out a physical examination of your elbow or shoulder, assessing the degree of mobility, flexibility and strength you have in the joint. This examination can also help them determine the effects of any pain or stiffness you have and how it is affecting your function.

Further tests may be needed to confirm a diagnosis or to assess the extent of any joint damage. With comprehensive imaging facilities on site, including X-ray, CT, MRI and ultrasound, we can quickly and easily arrange any tests needed.

If you have a problem with a shoulder or elbow, it is good to know that surgery will not be needed. There are some extremely effective non-surgical treatments available for a number of common shoulder and elbow problems, including:

  • Resting the joint as much as possible.

  • Pain relief medication. Always ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice if you’re not sure what to use or have any questions.

  • A cold compress placed on the affected joint throughout the day may help relieve symptoms.

  • Physiotherapy can be helpful, particularly when you need to stabilise and strengthen the elbow or shoulder joint either before or after surgery.

  • Injection therapies: An injection of a corticosteroid may help to reduce pain and stiffness. It also acts as an anti-inflammatory within the joint. These can be guided with X-ray and/or ultrasound here at The Blackheath to ensure optimal placement.

If non-surgical treatments aren’t able to provide you with the symptomatic relief you need, your Consultant may discuss having surgery to effectively treat the problem.

There are a number of ways surgery can be carried out on the shoulder and elbow, from a type of keyhole surgery known as arthroscopy through to “open” surgery. The majority of surgical treatments for the shoulder and elbow can be carried out using keyhole techniques, which cause less scarring and a faster recovery. Some operations, such as shoulder replacement surgery, are carried out using traditional “open” surgery.

If you do require surgery, your doctor will explain how the operation is done, the results you should expect to see from the surgery and any potential risks you need to be aware of. You will always have the information you need to make an informed decision about your treatment. If you have any questions or concerns at any stage, your Consultant will be happy to discuss them with you to address all your concerns.

If you have a problem with a shoulder or elbow, it is good to know that surgery will not be needed. There are some extremely effective non-surgical treatments available for a number of common shoulder and elbow problem

People who choose to have their shoulder and elbow surgery with us benefit from:

  • Rapid access: We have a number of experienced Consultants who specialise in treating shoulder and elbow problems. You’ll be able to discuss your problem with them and get their expert assessment and treatment advice without delay. A problem with a shoulder or elbow can have a significant effect on everyday activities. With fast access to assessment, diagnosis and treatment, we’ll get you out of pain and back to normal function sooner.
  • Patient satisfaction: In an independent survey, over 97% of the people we treated said they were likely or highly likely to recommend us to their friends and family. Our team of healthcare professionals work hard to ensure you’re delighted with the care and treatment you receive during your time with us.
  • Flexible appointments: We know that life is often very busy. We offer appointments throughout the week so that you’re able to schedule time with your Consultant at a time that’s most convenient for you.
  • Personalised care: A bespoke approach to treatment is invaluable for a shoulder and elbow problem. Your Consultant will tailor treatment to your specific needs and whatever may be best for you.
  • Multidisciplinary team: From experienced Consultant Elbow and Shoulder surgeons to nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and radiographers, you will receive the best possible support and care, before, during and after any treatment.
  • Remote Consultation: While your Consultation can be carried out in person on-site, we can also offer remote consultations by telephone or video where required.

Book your appointment online today.

If you’re feeling anxious or concerned about a problem with your shoulder or elbow, it’s important to know that good help is available.

There are effective treatments available, both non-surgical and surgical, for a wide range of injuries and conditions. Your Consultant will investigate the cause of your problem and then talk you through all treatment options. If surgery is needed, they will arrange that for you without delay.