The shoulder is your body’s most flexible joint. It lets the arm move in almost any direction. But this flexibility has a price—it makes the joint prone to injury. If you have a shoulder problem, a surgical procedure called arthroscopy can help.

Two healthcare providers wearing surgical gowns, masks, and hats doing surgery with arthroscope in shoulder. They are looking at video monitor.
A camera in the arthroscope allows your surgeon to view your shoulder joint on a monitor.

Your Orthopaedic Evaluation

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and the history of your shoulder problem. Your shoulder will be examined. And diagnostic tests, such as x-ray or MRI, may be done. These help your doctor find the cause of your shoulder problem.

Arthroscopy: Looking Inside Your Joint

Arthroscopy allows your doctor to see and work inside your shoulder joint through small incisions. A long, thin, lighted instrument called an arthroscope is used. During surgery, the scope sends live video images from inside the joint to a screen viewed by your doctor. Using these images, the doctor can diagnose and treat your shoulder problem. Because arthroscopy uses much smaller incisions than open surgery, recovery is often shorter and less painful.

Risks and Possible Complications of Shoulder Arthroscopy

  • Stiffness or ongoing pain in your shoulder
  • Bleeding or blood clots
  • Infection
  • Damage to nerves or blood vessels