A shoulder and elbow surgery unit uses the expertise of orthopaedic consultants to treat pain, discomfort and stiffness in the upper arm. Whether due to injury, wear and tear, or a long term condition, patients with a persistent issue in this area would benefit from a consultation with one of our specialists. There are a range of physical, medical and surgical treatments available for problems in this area.
Often, a patient will book an appointment due to long term, persistent discomfort in the shoulder or elbow area, which can include pain and stiffness from the neck to the hands. It may be that pain is regularly waking you from sleep or that you are finding you do not have the full range of motion in your shoulder that you used to. Indeed you may have suffered an injury in day to day life, perhaps playing sports or as a result of an accident, which has caused a fracture, dislocation, break or other trauma.
A common cause of shoulder pain is shoulder impingement, which is when the rotator cuff tendons rub or catch on the bone at the top of the shoulder. As with many conditions in the area, mild cases can be treated with exercise, rest and painkillers, while more severe cases can require steroid injections and occasionally rotator cuff repair surgery, such as an arthroscopic decompression procedure.
5% of the population will at some point experience a persistent stiffness, known as frozen shoulder, which can also significantly inhibit movement. Once again, this condition can often be managed through physiotherapy exercises and painkillers, but in severe cases may require a procedure like arthroscopic frozen shoulder release.
Pain in the elbow is known as tennis elbow and is a common reason for seeing a shoulder and elbow specialist. Golfer’s elbow, a less common condition, refers to pain on the inside of the elbow. Both golfers and tennis elbow are helped by rest and physiotherapy exercises, though there is a surgical procedure available known as golfers and tennis elbow release. Although it is rare, issues with the elbow can also be related to arthritis.
Another cause of pain specifically in the front of the elbow may be distal bicep tendinopathy, which is usually a result of significant weight training, causing a degeneration of tendons surrounding the bicep. Pain related to this condition is often exacerbated by moving or twisting the forearm. If necessary this can be treated with an injection of platelet rich plasma (PRP) or surgery.
Pain, numbness and tingling in the forearm and the fourth and fifth fingers can be a sign of ulnar nerve entrapment, which may require elbow or wrist surgery. A consultant may also use splints to immobilize the elbow as part of the treatment plan, alongside physiotherapy.
Sports injuries and other major traumas, such as dislocated shoulders and breaks, may require a variety of treatments. For example a dislocated shoulder can require surgical procedures, including arthroscopic stabilisation, if tendons have been damaged or stability has been lost.
Shoulder replacement surgery as a result of arthritis is less common than hip and knee replacement, though it is considered as safe and effective. During this procedure, the ball and socket joint where the scapula and humerus meet is replaced. The joint then continues to rely on the rotator cuff muscles and tendons for functionality. Reverse shoulder replacement surgery is a different procedure which reverses the ball and socket joint so that the deltoid muscle is used for strength and function.