Sub-acromial Decompression


Sub-Acromial Decompression

Subacromial decompression is a surgical procedure aimed at addressing shoulder impingement, a condition characterized by pain experienced when raising the arm. Typically conducted using minimally invasive keyhole surgery, known as arthroscopy, subacromial decompression may also be termed as ‘acromioplasty’.

What is shoulder impingement?

Shoulder impingement presents a common form of shoulder discomfort. Surrounding and supporting your shoulder is a cluster of muscles known as the ‘rotator cuff.’ The tendons of these muscles reside in a narrow space between the top of your arm bone and the upper bone of your shoulder blade. When these tendons incur damage within this space, it leads to shoulder impingement, resulting in pain. The exact cause remains uncertain to doctors, but it could be attributed to various factors, potentially acting in combination. These factors may encompass:

  • Swelling or tearing of tendons due to overuse (such as sports activities) or age-related ‘wear and tear.’
  • Structural anomalies in the bone at the top of the shoulder blade (the acromion), causing friction against the tendons.
  • Formation of bony growths (spurs) on the acromion with aging.

Shoulder impingement manifests as pain upon raising the arm. Additionally, individuals may experience muscle atrophy in the affected arm and restricted movement of the arm.

How is subacromial decompression done?

Subacromial decompression is performed minimally invasively using an arthroscope. This surgical procedure aims to increase the space within the subacromial region, situated between the ball-and-socket joint of the shoulder and the acromion bone above it.

During decompression surgery, a surgeon may undertake one or both of the following procedures:

  1. Acromioplasty involves shaving down the acromion bone, which helps alleviate shoulder impingement symptoms by reducing pressure on the rotator cuff and bursa.
  2. Removal of bone spurs, known as osteophytes, that have formed on the shoulder bones. These spurs can cause discomfort by rubbing against the rotator cuff and the subacromial bursa.