Shoulder surgeons are doctors who specialize in conditions that affect the shoulder. Shoulder surgeons can be medical doctors, meaning they have an M.D., or they may be doctors of osteopathic medicine, meaning they have a D.O. Both degree titles require the same certifications and and post-medical school training to specialize in shoulder surgery.
After completing medical school, doctors who aim to to specialize in shoulder surgery must graduate from an orthopedic surgery residency program. Specialization in shoulder surgery requires an additional year or more of fellowship training after completing surgical residency.
Typical Conditions Treated
Orthopedic shoulder surgeons treat a wide variety of conditions that affect the shoulder. The causes of these conditions often varies. These conditions may be congenital, meaning they were present at birth, or they may be due to trauma, tumors, or infections. SLAP tears, or Superior Labrum Anterior and Posterior tears, may be caused by trauma. Other examples of trauma-related conditions include shoulder fractures, dislocations, post-trauma arthritis, and muscle ruptures.
Conditions may also be degenerative, meaning that they cause the structures they affect to gradually deteriorate or break down over time. Shoulder osteoarthritis, also called degenerative shoulder joint disease, is one degenerative shoulder condition. The gradual degeneration of joints and other structures can occur due to gradual wear-and-tear or aging, but it can also occur due to genetics, unhealthy lifestyle choices, repetitive motions or overuse. Rotator cuff tears and injuries are an example of both an overuse injury and a degenerative condition.
Typical Procedures Performed
Shoulder surgery options vary depending on such factors as the condition, its location within the shoulder, the severity of the condition, the patient’s general health. Surgery is performed either as an open or an arthroscopic procedure.
Arthroscopy is a technology that allows the shoulder surgeon to insert a camera through a small incision and inside the joint. The camera is connected to a display monitor so that the surgeon is able to see inside the joint without major surgery. This may be performed for diagnostic purposes, but it is also used to provide image guidance during surgery. Arthroscopic debridement, arthroscopic bankart repair, and arthroscopic rotator cuff repair are a few of the procedures performed by orthopedic shoulder surgeons using arthroscopy. An open procedure uses slightly larger incisions. It is the more traditional approach, and in some cases it provides better results. Shoulder joint replacement is one open procedure shoulder surgeons may use to treat osteonecrosis, severe fractures, and severe arthritis in the shoulder.
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