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Shoulder & elbow surgery

Dealing with shoulder or elbow pain?

The shoulder is considered to be the most mobile joint in the body, capable of movement in every direction. This wide range of motion means it is very susceptible to injury.

You may notice symptoms particularly during certain activities, such as at work, hunched over a computer or when playing sport. Pain is the main indicator of a shoulder or elbow issue, and this can lead to disturbed sleep, where you find you can’t get comfortable. The pain in your shoulder is often worse at night as you’re lying on it.

The point when sleep is affected like this is often when patients seek medical help, as the pain has become invasive. If you’ve reached this point, you won’t want to wait any longer, which is why at Mount Alvernia we prioritise getting you in for a consultation at your earliest convenience.

General symptoms of a shoulder or elbow concern include:

  • Pain in your shoulder
  • Difficulty lifting your arm
  • Hands going numb overnight
  • Swelling in your shoulder
  • Pain down the inside or outside of your elbow
  • A ‘clicking’ sound or sensation in your shoulder

These symptoms could indicate a number of conditions that may require treatment, such as:

  • Frozen shoulder (pain and stiffness in the shoulder joint)
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Fractures
  • Tennis Elbow/Golfer’s Elbow (from repetitive twisting or gripping motions)
  • Shoulder dislocation/instability
  • Ulnar nerve (one of the main nerves in your arm) entrapment
  • Rotator cuff tendon tear
  • Bicep tear

Many conditions of the shoulder and elbow will get better over time with enough rest. Our physiotherapy team can work closely with you, providing a personalised rehabilitation programme to help maintain mobility and strengthen the muscles while you recover. Tennis elbow and Golfer’s elbow usually occur through overuse of the forearm muscles, so a period of rest can dramatically improve symptoms.

Activity modification may need to be considered, either reducing the time spent on a particular activity or cutting it out entirely. This is most appropriate if you find your symptoms are exacerbated by a specific activity, and your consultant can advise you accordingly.

We also work closely with our Rheumatology colleagues, who can help you manage your condition with disease-modifying medication, and this is especially effective for those diagnosed with arthritis.

Other non-invasive treatments include steroid injections, which can be performed under ultrasound guidance to increase accuracy, usually providing even better results.

If your symptoms are severe, or they have been unresponsive to other conservative treatments, surgery may be the best option. Tendon tears are best treated sooner rather than later, as early treatment normally gives a better outcome. Over time, tears can retract, even becoming irreparable if left without treatment, as the muscle atrophies (wastes away), reducing the likelihood of a successful surgery.

Don’t delay any further if you have persistent symptoms in your shoulder or elbow – with a straightforward consultation and diagnosis, your consultant can advise you on the best treatment plan for your condition, providing a range of options to help bring you relief.

Your consultant will begin your appointment by taking a detailed medical history, as well as asking you about the symptoms you’ve been dealing with. They will most likely want to know:

  • What symptoms have you been experiencing?
  • How long have you had them?
  • If you are in pain, can you describe it? Is it a sharp pain or does it radiate down your arm? Is the pain constant or only at certain times?
  • Have your symptoms become progressively worse?
  • Is it worse at night?

This is followed by a physical examination of the affected limb, and your consultant will press and manipulate your shoulder or elbow to assess your symptoms. Normally, your consultant will also wish to see an x-ray, and if this hasn’t been done previously, it can be arranged on-site here at Mount Alvernia at our Imaging department. An x-ray will help your consultant assess for fractures as well as ruling out conditions such as osteoarthritis.

Depending on your symptoms, you may also require an MRI, CT, or ultrasound scan, which highlight the soft tissues and can indicate concerns such as a tendon tear or impingement.

For most conditions, this is enough to confirm an accurate diagnosis, and your consultant can outline options to you with a personalised treatment plan. This may include non-invasive treatments such as steroid injections, physiotherapy, or medication.

Suspected tendon tears may need to be assessed arthroscopically, which can be done as a day case procedure. This is a form of keyhole surgery, where your consultant will make a number of small incisions in your arm, allowing them to insert a camera to visualise the tissue and tendons. The benefit of this procedure is that tendon tears can often be treated at the same time, as the incisions allow access for surgical tools to help repair the damage.

Rotator cuff injuries are often repaired in this way, or with ‘mini-open’ surgery, depending on the extent of the tear. As with any other condition, in most cases there will be an alternative form of treatment, and your consultant will clearly explain all your options, allowing you to make an informed decision on how best to proceed.

By choosing to have your treatment at Mount Alvernia, you’ll be able to take advantage of all these great benefits:

Assessments ASAP – If your quality of life has been affected by your symptoms, you’ll want to be seen by a consultant without any unnecessary delay. By seeing patients rapidly, our consultants can get you started on the right course of treatment as soon as possible.

State-of-the-art investigations - With an all-encompassing Imaging department with MRI, CT, X-ray and Ultrasound available on-site, any standard diagnostic scan can be carried out without long waiting lists, helping you get your diagnosis quicker.

 

Patient Satisfaction – 98% of other patients in 2020 said they would happily recommend the Mount Alvernia Hospital to friends and family in an independent report, and we’re confident that you’ll agree. 98% also said that the quality of care here at Mount Alvernia Hospital was either ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’. We aim to make your stay with us as comfortable as possible, and these results highlight our continued efforts to ensure this is achieved.

Personalised care – We believe in a bespoke approach to treatment, tailoring each experience to our patients’ needs, based on an accurate diagnosis.

A multidisciplinary approach – Our teams at Mount Alvernia work in tandem with each other to provide you with the best possible care from start to finish. We have close links with Neurology, Pain Management and Rheumatology to aid your treatment. Alongside colleagues in physiotherapy, and a dedicated team of radiographers, anaesthetists, and nurses, you have support from medical professionals every step of the way during your treatment.

Convenient appointments – With appointments available at dedicated clinics five days a week, you are sure to find an appointment that suits your needs and availability.

If you have been suffering from persistent shoulder and/or elbow pain, why not get in touch with our reception team today to book a consultation? Our consultants can organise the necessary diagnostic tests to investigate your symptoms, and outline all treatment options for you promptly, arranging any further scans or surgery if required.

For expert personalised care, please contact Mount Alvernia to book an appointment now.

Specialists Offering Shoulder & elbow surgery

Mr Anthony Hearnden

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon

MBBS, BSc, FRCS (Tr&Orth)

BMI Mount Alvernia Hospital

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