Shoulder decompression surgery

Arthoscopic subacromial decompression (acromioplasty)

An arthroscopic or keyhole operation to treat pain related to shoulder impingement and improve your range of movement

About shoulder decompression surgery

Shoulder pain is often caused by rotator cuff impingement. This means that your rotator cuff tendon is pinched or rubbed by the bones in your shoulder. Subacromial decompression is a surgical procedure to remove excess bone and increase the space between the tendons and the acromion (point of the shoulder blade).

Need to know

  • What happens during a shoulder decompression? icon plus

    Subacromal decompression is usually done as an arthroscopic (keyhole) procedure using general anaesthetic. Your surgeon will make a few small cuts on your shoulder, allowing them to insert a tiny surgical camera called an arthroscope.

    The arthroscope helps them to see inside your shoulder joint, while they use specialised surgical instruments to shave away excess bone (bone spur) and repair tendon damage.

    Your surgeon may also need to remove a small portion of bone where your shoulder and collarbone meet (distal clavicle). The whole procedure takes around an hour.
  • How to prepare for shoulder surgery icon plus

    Your consultant will explain the procedure to you and answer any questions you may have. They will let you know how to prepare, including how long you should avoid eating and drinking beforehand.

    Like all procedures, there may be some risks and side effects involved. Your consultant will explain these to you.
  • After shoulder surgery icon plus

    You should be able to go home the same day as your procedure. You'll need to wear the sling for a few days afterwards to help stabilise your shoulder as it heals. It can take several months to make a full recovery.

    Your consultant will let you know what to expect and how to care for your shoulder. They'll give you advice on pain management and let you know when you can get back to your usual routine, including work or exercise.

    They may also recommend physiotherapy exercises to help you improve your flexibility and regain strength in your shoulder.

Our shoulder consultants

We're proud to work with leading orthopaedic experts specialising in shoulder problems and upper limb conditions including the elbow. 

Our locations

From complex shoulder surgery to diagnostic tests and procedures, we provide exceptional orthopaedic care across our network of hospitals, outpatient centres and specialist clinics.

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.

Request an appointment

Our team can help with any enquiries or you make an appointment with one of our experienced consultants.

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020 7079 4344
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