Shoulder Acromioplasty – Subacromial Decompression Doctor

Are you experiencing shoulder pain and pinching, especially when lifting the arm or performing overhead tasks? If so, you may have subacromial impingement, or an inflamed rotator cuff. Shoulder acromioplasty is a surgical treatment used to relieve shoulder pain caused by subacromial impingement. Doctor Riley J. Williams provides acromioplasty and other shoulder treatment options for patients in Manhattan and New York City, NY who are experiencing shoulder impingement. Contact Dr. Williams’ team today!

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What is shoulder acromioplasty or subacromial decompression?

Shoulder acromioplasty is a surgical procedure that is performed to relieve shoulder pain associated with subacromial impingement or rotator cuff disease. The acromion is part of the scapula (shoulder blade) and is the “roof” of the shoulder that protects the rotator cuff. Impingement syndrome is characterized by a lack of space between the rotator cuff and acromion process. This lack of space causes the rotator cuff tendon to rub on the undersurface of the acromion. Acromioplasty involves shaving away part of the acromion to create space. This additional space relieves pressure on the rotator cuff upon shoulder movement. Dr. Riley J. Williams, orthopedic shoulder surgeon, serving Manhattan, New York City and the surrounding New York boroughs, has extensive experience in performing shoulder acromioplasty and other shoulder procedures.

Why is subacromial decompression performed?

The rotator cuff envelopes the top of the humeral head and is comprised of muscles and tendons. The cuff rests underneath the acromion. Osteophytes (bone spurs) can develop on the underside of the acromion which decreases the effective space in which the rotator cuff can function. The additional acromion bone causes catching and painful irritation of the rotator cuff. Irritation of the subacromial bursa (bursitis) can also occur in these circumstances. Removal of the osteophytes relieves the irritation on the rotator cuff. The acromion can impinge or rub against the rotator cuff or bursa (fluid filled sac aiding in reduction of friction in joints), especially during overhead movements. Shaving away a small part of the acromion allows more room for movement between the rotator cuff and acromion. This space can alleviate pressure that causes pain and irritation. Rotator cuff disease and shoulder impingement syndrome are commonly observed in individuals who participate in overhead focused athletic activities such as swimming, baseball, water polo or weightlifting.

How is subacromial decompression performed?

Shoulder acromioplasty is performed using light sedation and regional anesthesia; this arthroscopic procedure is done in the outpatient setting. Arthroscopic surgery utilizes small incisions in the shoulder into which Dr. Williams inserts a small camera (arthroscope) and surgical tools to perform the operation. A small portion of the acromion is removed using a shaver.  Thickened bursal tissue is also removed. Tears to the rotator cuff or labrum are repaired concomitantly during the arthroscopy.

What are the risks of subacromial decompression?

Arthroscopic shoulder surgery is associated with a small risk of infection, blood vessel or nerve damage. These occurrences are very rare.

How long does it take to recover?

Surgical patients go home the same day of the operation with his or her arm in a sling. The sling is typically used for 5-7 days after surgery. Physical therapy starts one week after surgery. Physical therapy is indicated to help to patients regain range of motion and strength in the operative shoulder. Total recovery time after shoulder acromioplasty is approximately 2-4 months.

For additional resources on shoulder acromioplasty or to have your shoulder pain evaluated, please contact the office of Dr. Riley J. Williams, orthopedic shoulder surgeon serving Manhattan, New York and the surrounding New York Boroughs.