Shoulder impingement occurs when there is compression of the soft tissues around the rotator cuff when the arm is moved in certain motions. If the space between the rotator cuff and the bony roof (acromion) decreases, patients can have symptoms related to impingement. Subacromial decompression surgery relieves this pressure by making more room for the soft tissues around the rotator cuff.
Subacromial decompression surgery relieves this pressure by making more room for the soft tissues around the rotator cuff. This is done by removing the inflamed bursa located above the rotator cuff, and shaving off some of the undersurface of the bony ceiling to the space, called the acromion (acromioplasty). Some patients develop a spur on the undersurface of the acromion, causing there to be a spike pinching down on the rotator cuff. This is also removed as part of the acromioplasty.
This procedure is performed arthroscopically, meaning using a camera and small incision. It is performed as an outpatient procedure, meaning the patient comes in and a goes home on the same day.
A sling will be worn for a few days after surgery, and physical therapy will starts a few days after surgery. Physical therapy includes range of motion exercises and light strengthening. After six weeks, a moderate strengthening program will be implemented, and a full recovery is expected at three months if there were no other procedures done at the time of surgery.