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Shoulder surgery can significantly improve your shoulder pain and function.
Your shoulder joint is made up of your humeral head, a ball at the top of your humerus (arm bone) and a glenoid, which is a shallow socket in your scapula (shoulder blade). The ends of your humeral head (ball) and glenoid (socket) are wrapped in smooth tissue, known as articular cartilage. This cushions the bones that form your shoulder, helping you to move your bones painlessly and with ease. A group of muscles known as your rotator cuff also helps facilitate the movement of your shoulder.
Your rotator cuff consists of four muscles that help keep your shoulder in place and manage its movement. The four tendons of these muscles fuse together to form a single large tendon referred to as your rotator cuff tendon. This tendon attaches to your humeral head (the ball at the top of your arm bone) and passes through a space underneath your acromion (a bony area at the top of your shoulder blade) when you lift your arm. This space is referred to as your subacromial space.
Your rotator cuff tendon can become damaged from inflammation in your tendon, or through a tear. A tear is known as a rotator cuff tear. The articular cartilage in your shoulder joint bones can also become damaged due to arthritis, or a shoulder injury. You might be advised to have shoulder surgery to repair any damage to these structures within your joint.
The common reasons why you might need shoulder surgery include:
Osteoarthritis: Osteoarthritis impacts an estimated nine million people across the UK. It occurs when the cartilage that covers the ends of your joint begins to break down. As a result, the bones that form your joint begin to rub together causing pain, inflammation and stiffness.
Rheumatoid arthritis: This form of arthritis affects 1% of the UK population. It is caused by your immune system attacking the cells that line your joints, which leads to swelling, pain and stiffness in your shoulder.
Frozen shoulder: A frozen shoulder is caused by an abnormality in the lining of your joint, which can lead to shoulder pain and stiffness.
Rotator cuff tear: Your rotator cuff tendon can tear following an injury such as a shoulder dislocation, an overuse of your shoulder from playing sport, or as part of wear and tear of the tendon due to ageing. Rotator cuff repair surgery can help repair the tear in your rotator cuff.
Shoulder impingement: If your rotator cuff tendon rubs against your acromion (the bony part of your shoulder blade) when you raise your arm, you are suffering from shoulder impingement. A shoulder impingement can occur due to the irritation or inflammation in the bursa (fluid-filled sac) located between your rotator cuff tendon and acromion, or following a tear in your rotator cuff tendon (rotator cuff tear).
Shoulder instability: Shoulder instability can be caused by dislocation, an injury where your humeral head (the ball at the top of your arm bone) is completely removed from its socket, or subluxation (when your joint is only partially out of place after an injury).
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