What Is Soft Tissue Shoulder Reconstruction?

Soft tissue injuries occur through overuse or when trauma occurs to the muscles, tendons or ligaments.

The shoulder joint is a unique structure where the ball and socket are different sizes. Because of this, the stability of the shoulder joint comes from soft tissue structures like the labrum (cartilage that forms a ‘bumper’ for the socket and helps keep the ball in place) and surrounding muscles, such as the shoulder rotator cuff (a group of muscles and tendons around the shoulder joint) and deltoid (the muscle at the top of the shoulder).

What Are the Symptoms of Soft Tissue Injuries?

Any injury to the shoulder will show symptoms such as pain, delayed or immediate swelling, heat, redness or bruising and stiffness or loss of function in the affected arm.

With severe injuries, fractures can also occur, and you should go to the hospital straight away for evaluation. You should seek immediate medical attention if you experience severe pain, swelling or numbness, cannot tolerate or hold weight on the injured limb, observe any deformity or heard any cracking or popping sounds at the time of the injury.

Treatment

Your surgeon will work with you to determine the preferred treatment option, including the possibility of surgery, depending on how severe your problems are.

Certain types of injuries, such as frequent, recurring dislocations and some rotator cuff tears may require surgery. The surgery is often done through arthroscopy (using a camera and other tools inserted through a small incision) to remove any scar tissue and repair torn tissue. A traditional ‘open’ procedure may be needed if the problem is larger in scale and a larger scale reconstruction or replacement is needed.

It is important to note that a total shoulder replacement can only be conducted if the muscles of the rotator cuff are intact.

Recovery

Following surgery, you will likely spend 1 night in the hospital. Your surgeon will assess your nerve function to make sure that everything is still working well. Physiotherapy should begin as soon as possible.

You will not be able to move your shoulder for up to 6 weeks after surgery to allow for the area and tendons to properly heal. Once the initial recovery process is complete, physiotherapy will continue to improve the strength and range of motion in the shoulder. Full recovery from surgery could take anywhere between 4 to 6 months depending on the scale of the injury and the extent of the surgery that was performed.