Skip to main content
Call Us

Shoulder Arthroscopy

The fellowship trained orthopaedic surgeons at Florida Orthopaedic Institute use arthroscopic procedures to inspect, diagnose, and repair problems inside and around the shoulder joint. Arthroscopy means “to look within the joint.” During a shoulder arthroscopy, the surgeon inserts a tiny camera called an arthroscope into the shoulder joint. The camera displays images on a monitor, and the surgeon uses these images to guide small surgical instruments.

Because the arthroscope and surgical instruments are small, the surgeon only needs to make small incisions, rather than the larger incisions needed for standard, open surgery. Smaller incisions reduce pain and shorten recovery time.

Performed since the 1970s, shoulder arthroscopy makes the diagnosis, treatment, and recovery from shoulder surgery easier and faster. The shoulder surgeons at Florida Orthopaedic Institute are on the cutting edge of new instruments and techniques developed every year and help pioneer many of these improvements.

When Shoulder Arthroscopy is Recommended

Injury, age-related wear and tear, and overuse cause most shoulder problems. Shoulder arthroscopy can relieve painful symptoms from rotator cuff tendons, labrum, articular cartilage, and other soft tissues surrounding the joint. Swelling, pain, and stiffness are common symptoms due to inflammation of the joint – the body’s normal reactions to injury or disease.

Shoulder arthroscopy is used when a painful shoulder condition does not respond to nonsurgical treatment. Florida Orthopaedic Institute’s philosophy is to first try all appropriate nonsurgical methods to increase mobility and function. This can include rest, medication, bracing, injections, physical and occupational therapy, or chiropractic services. Then, and only then, do we suggest surgery.

Common problems that arthroscopic surgery is used for:

  • Arthritis of the end of the clavicle (collarbone)
  • Bankart lesion
  • Bone spur or inflammation around the rotator cuff
  • Inflammation or damaged lining of the joint, often caused by an illness, such as rheumatoid arthritis
  • Shoulder impingement syndrome
  • Shoulder instability, in which the shoulder joint is loose and slides around too much or becomes dislocated (slips out of the ball and socket joint). Also called subluxation.
  • SLAP (Superior Labrum Anterior and Posterior) tears or lesions
  • Torn or damaged biceps tendon
  • Torn or damaged cartilage ring (labrum) or ligaments
  • Torn rotator cuff

Arthroscopic procedures performed at Florida Orthopaedic Institute:

  • Acromioplasty
  • Arthritis
  • Arthroscopic subscapularis repair
  • Bankart repair
  • Bone spur removal
  • Bursitis
  • Ligament repair
  • Loose tissue removed
  • Recurrent shoulder dislocation repair
  • Removal of inflamed tissue or loose cartilage
  • Removal or repair of the labrum
  • Rotator cuff repair
  • SLAP repairs
  • Tendonitis

Less common shoulder procedures are also performed using an arthroscope:

  • Cyst excision
  • Fracture repair
  • Nerve release

Outpatient Surgery

If you are generally healthy, your arthroscopy can be performed in an outpatient setting. This means your surgery can be performed at one of our two Surgery Centers and you will not need an overnight stay at a hospital.

While most arthroscopic procedures take less than an hour, the length of the surgery depends on what your surgeon discovers and what repairs are needed.

Surgical Procedure Overview

First, sterile fluid is injected into the shoulder to inflate the joint, making it easier to see through the arthroscope. The arthroscope is inserted through an incision about the size of a buttonhole. Images from the arthroscope are projected on the video screen allowing the surgeon to see the inside of the shoulder and any damage.

Once the problem is identified, other small instruments are inserted through separate incisions for repair. There are specialized instruments used for shaving, cutting, grasping, suture passing, and knot tying, as well as special devices to anchor stitches into bone. After the procedure is complete, the incisions are closed with stitches, skin closures or adhesive bandages.


Recovery from arthroscopy surgery is faster than recovery from open surgery, but it can still take weeks for a shoulder joint to recover completely.

Most patients experience some pain and discomfort for at least a week after surgery – more extensive surgeries may take several weeks before the pain goes away. Ice, pain medicine and body position can help, as well as a sling or immobilizer to protect the shoulder. Your surgeon will discuss with you how long a sling will be needed.

To get back to daily activities, a rehabilitation and exercise program is key. Your surgeon will work with the Physical Therapy team to develop a rehabilitation plan to help regain shoulder strength and motion based on the surgical procedure performed. A Florida Orthopaedic Institute physical therapist can help supervise your exercise program at any of our 10 Tampa Bay locations.

Consult with a Florida Orthopaedic Institute Surgeon

Arthroscopic surgery can result in less pain and stiffness, fewer complications, and faster recovery than open surgery. The experienced surgeons at Florida Orthopaedic Institute can give you expert advice on whether this procedure is right for you, after exhausting all nonsurgical options.

The following Florida Orthopaedic Institute physicians specialize in Shoulder Arthroscopy:

Find A Physician