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Shoulder & elbow surgery

Expert care for shoulder and elbow problems

Our shoulders and elbows play an important role in many of our everyday routines and activities. Whether we’re putting our shoes on, brushing our teeth, unpacking the food shop or driving our car, our shoulders and elbows are heavily involved in making all of these possible.

Any problem in an elbow or shoulder, particularly pain, stiffness or weakness, can have a significant impact on our ability to carry out many of these tasks.

If you are concerned about any type of problem in your shoulder or elbow, it can be sensible to see an expert for assessment and advice.

The Consultant Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons at BMI Bishops Wood Hospital treat a wide range of disorders and diseases of the shoulder and elbow, restoring pain-free movement and function once again. They would be delighted to help you too.

The majority of shoulder and elbow problems can be categorised as:

  • Acute trauma – for example, a heavy rugby tackle that causes a shoulder to dislocate
  • Chronic trauma - injury to the joint over a longer-term, caused by a repetitive movement or overuse
  • Inflammation
  • ‘Wear and tear’ degeneration

Some of the reasons people visit a Consultant Shoulder and Elbow Surgeon at Bishops Wood are for help with:

  • Pain and/or inflammation
  • Stiffness
  • Weakness
  • Instability or dislocations
  • Pain at the end of the collarbone (clavicle)
  • Pops or clicks when moving the arm

It can be quite easy to ignore mild symptoms in the shoulder and elbow. For example, many people with a stiff shoulder will often dismiss it as a natural part of the ageing process. It’s only when symptoms become more pronounced and start limiting arm movement that they realise they need to get expert help.

Shoulder and elbow problem can affect all ages. Degenerative problems, such as osteoarthritis, become more likely as we get older, but younger people do suffer from these conditions occasionally too.

When your symptoms are particularly severe or are starting to interfere with daily life, you’ll appreciate being able to get expert help, quickly. At Bishops Wood, we can easily book an appointment for you with an experienced Consultant for assessment, diagnosis and treatment.

The complex anatomy and function of the shoulder and elbow mean they are quite prone to damage and injury. Some of the problems frequently seen at Bishops Wood include:

  • Osteoarthritis – a degenerative condition causing pain and stiffness in the affected joint. Non-surgical treatments can be effective in the earlier stages, but in its more advanced stages joint replacement surgery may be required.
  • Frozen shoulder – a common condition that causes pain and stiffness in the shoulder.
  • Rotator cuff injury/tendon tear – the rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that help keep the shoulder in position. A tear can cause pain in the shoulder, which usually gets worse if the arm is moved away from the body.
  • Tennis Elbow –caused by overusing the muscles involved in twisting motions.
  • Golfer’s Elbow – caused by overusing the muscles involved in gripping movement.
  • Shoulder dislocation – if your shoulder has previously dislocated, you are more likely to experience dislocations in the future.
  • Bursitis - inflammation of a fluid-filled sac (bursa) in your elbow or shoulder.
  • Bicep tendon rupture – causes sharp pain at the shoulder or elbow.
  • Cubital tunnel syndrome – caused by damage to the ulnar nerve as it passes through a ‘tunnel’ formed by bone, muscle and ligament on the inside of the elbow. The most common symptom is an aching pain in the elbow.
  • Sports injuries – these can range from fairly mild sprains to more serious damage. Acute trauma, such as fracture or dislocation, is usually treated by the NHS in A&E.

Whatever problem you’re experiencing in your shoulder or elbow, our experienced Consultant Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons can help ensure you receive the best treatment for it.

When you first meet with your Consultant, they will take a clinical history and ask you about your symptoms. They will want to know:

  • The symptoms you have
  • How long you’ve had the symptoms
  • What your job is
  • Whether any movements or actions make your symptoms worse
  • If you’ve recently had an obvious upper limb injury, such as a fall onto your arm or a hard knock while playing football
  • Whether you’ve received any type of treatment already, such as physiotherapy

They will carry out a physical examination of the affected area to help determine the mobility, strength and function you currently have in the affected joint.

Some shoulder and elbow conditions will need additional investigation. Most commonly, this will be an X-ray of the shoulder or elbow, and this can be helpful in showing obvious abnormalities in the bony structures. For soft tissue concerns, such as bursitis or a rotator cuff tear, an Ultrasound or MRI scan may be required.

We have MRI, Ultrasound and X-ray available on-site, so these are easily arranged where needed.

Once the results of any investigations are back, your Consultant will talk through the results with you and discuss suitable treatment options.

It’s important to know that many shoulder and elbow conditions can be treated without the need for surgery. Non-surgical treatments may include:

  • Physiotherapy and exercise programmes
  • Pain relief medication (analgesia)
  • Steroid Injections

If these non-surgical treatments aren’t able to relieve your symptoms, or become less effective for any reason, surgery may be needed.

Rotator cuff tears will often need surgery to repair, and this is usually done by keyhole surgery as a day case procedure.

A frozen shoulder progresses through three distinct phases - freezing, frozen, thawing. It will eventually resolve itself naturally, but this may take many months. Physiotherapy and joint injections can be helpful, although some people with more severe pain and stiffness may not respond to these treatments. In these cases, a keyhole surgical release may be considered.

Advanced osteoarthritis can cause severe pain and stiffness in the shoulder, often making movement of the shoulder almost impossible. Shoulder replacement surgery can be helpful in this situation, replacing the worn, damaged joint with a new artificial shoulder joint (prosthesis). This operation is not carried out at Bishops Wood, so your Consultant will refer you to a regional centre for this if required.

If you require any type of surgery for your shoulder or elbow, it will be fully explained to you by your Consultant. They will also talk you through any potential risks or complications you need to be aware of to make an informed decision about treatment. If you have any questions or concerns, your Consultant will be very happy to discuss these with you.

Many of the people we help are local to Northwood while others travel from other parts of Middlesex to benefit from our relaxed atmosphere and friendly approach. We also have people travel from further afield to visit with us, including from Watford, Hemel Hempstead and Gerrards Cross.

Some people are referred to us by their GP or physiotherapist. Others choose to come to us because a friend or family member has recommended us to them.

We treat people with private medical insurance and those who choose one of our fixed-price self-pay options.

Regardless of how you’ve been referred to us or the distance you’ll be travelling to visit with us, at Bishops Wood you will always benefit from:

  • Fast access to an expert – Rather than having to wait weeks (or even possibly months) to see somebody for even an initial consultation, you will be able to see a Consultant quickly, so that you can be treated and back on the road to recovery sooner.
  • An experienced (and friendly!) team – Your Consultant is supported in their work by a multidisciplinary team including radiologists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and nurses. With input from highly experienced experts in their field, you will be well looked after at every stage of your treatment and recovery by our friendly team.

  • As recommended by patients– In an independent survey, 94.1% of people we treated said they were likely or highly likely to recommend us to their friends and family.

If you’re concerned at all by a shoulder or elbow problem, book your appointment online today. 

Specialists Offering Shoulder & elbow surgery

Mr David Ahearne

Consultant Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgeon

MB ChB, MSc, FRCS (Tr and Orth)

BMI Bishops Wood Hospital 1 more BMI The Clementine Churchill Hospital

View profile Book online

Mr Richard Sinnerton

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

FRCS(Orth)

BMI Bishops Wood Hospital 2 more BMI The Princess Margaret Hospital BMI Syon Clinic

View profile Book online

Mr Rupen Dattani

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

BSc(Hons), MBChB, MRCSEd, MD, FRCSEd(Tr&Orth)

BMI Bishops Wood Hospital 1 more BMI The Clementine Churchill Hospital

View profile Book online

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