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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 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? icon plus

    Subacromal decompression is usually done as an arthroscopic (keyhole) procedure using general anaesthetic, meaning you'll be asleep. 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 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.
  • Afterwards 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.
Consultant in theatres

Our consultants

We're proud to work with leading experts across a range of medical fields, whose skills are matched by their integrity and compassion.

Our facilities

From complex surgery to straightforward procedures, we provide exceptional 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

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