What is a Shoulder Reconstruction?

Your shoulder is a crucial joint for daily activity, guiding your arm in all its movements. Whether you’re moving things around at work, hitting the dancefloor or waving to a friend. You have likely heard of a shoulder injury resulting in the need for a reconstruction. Today, we are going to take a look at what actually is a shoulder reconstruction and when the procedure is needed. 

A shoulder reconstruction

Like all the joints in our body, the shoulder is susceptible to wear and tear, damage and disease. When this happens, it can impact our ability to perform even basic functions, leaving us in pain and out of mobility.

While exercise, physiotherapy, bracing and other conservative treatments help most of the time, if the injury or condition is severe enough, a shoulder reconstruction may be suggested by a surgeon or other specialist.

A shoulder reconstruction is the repair of tendons and ligaments that have been damaged, helping to restore strength and function. This is often done by keyhole surgery (a minimally invasive form of surgery with lower associated risk).

The procedure and recovery period often varies from person to person, but normally six to eight weeks is the expected recovery time.

It’s important to note that a reconstruction is completely different to a replacement, and the majority of people with shoulder issues who need surgery will be recommended the former.


How do I know if I need a shoulder reconstruction?

When it comes to a shoulder reconstruction, there are many things to consider. Such as, the condition and recovery of your shoulder, your normal level of activity, risks and benefits of the procedure, rehabilitation as well as the impact it will have on your daily life.

If the following issues are happening to you, it’s worth talking to your GP, physio or other specialist about a shoulder reconstruction.

  • Pain in the shoulder is severe and radiates from the shoulder.
  • Pain continues after physical activity, not subsiding after rest.
  • Inability to sleep properly due to the pain.
  • Weakness developing in the arm.
  • When lifting or moving things, your arm and shoulder are impaired in movement, or you have trouble raising your arm past a certain point.

If the option of a shoulder reconstruction is on the table, there are still a range of things to consider before going ahead. The pros and cons of a shoulder reconstruction are best considered carefully, and in consultation with your healthcare provider. Here are a few risks and benefits:

Benefits of a shoulder reconstruction

  • Long-term relief of pain
  • Increased mobility/restoration of movement
  • Renewed ability to return to activity
  • Improvement to daily life and less need for ongoing treatment.

Man wearing a Bauerfeind shoulder brace while recovering from a shoulder injury

    Risks of a shoulder reconstruction

    • Surgical risks including infection, nerve damage, reaction to anesthesia or blood vessel damage
    • Downtime for recovery and rehab, including the risk of complications
    • Not a guarantee that issue will go away

    Ultimately, the case for shoulder reconstruction will change from person to person, and consultation and deliberation with your healthcare providers is the best thing to do when deciding.

    However, regardless of whether or not you opt for the surgery, conservative therapy and care of the shoulder is still beneficial, and looking at physiotherapy, shoulder braces and exercise are the best way to take care of your shoulder holistically and give your body the chance at recovery and pain relief.

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