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Advances in the Treatment of Shoulder Pain
El Camino Innovates

Advances in shoulder pain treatments are now enabling more options for people suffering from rotator cuff and other shoulder injuries. That’s good news for the roughly 25 percent of us who will experience a shoulder injury at some time in our lives.

Physicians now have better diagnostic tools, such as the latest in MRI technology, at their disposal. Likewise, treatment options have advanced significantly. As an example, minimally invasive shoulder arthroscopy can now fix certain types of shoulder problems with less stress to the patient.


Spend a few minutes watching this video, in which Drs. Nicholas Colyvas and Nathaniel Cohen discuss how these advances in diagnosing and treating pain in the shoulder are putting a different face on possibilities for patients. Topics covered in this shoulder pain innovations video include:

  • Advances in the diagnosis and treatment of shoulder pain
  • Recent advances in shoulder surgery
  • Why minimally invasive, bone-sparing procedures are important
  • Finding a surgeon and evaluating hospital programs

Transcript for Advances in the Treatment of Shoulder Pain

So shoulder injuries are very common in the population. Twenty-five percent of people at some point in time is statistically likely to have a shoulder injury. This can range from anything from a small minor problem to a rotator cuff injury, and more and more eventually lead to the development of arthritis and the need for bigger surgery--shoulder replacements and things like that.

Recent Surgical Advancements

So one of the more common injuries we see in the shoulder is rotator cuff tears, rotator cuff injuries, and the treatment for this has really undergone a big change over the course of the last five to 10 years. Part of that has been because we're better at diagnosing it with MRIs, and we're better at treating it now with new advanced procedures, and in particular, the one that really has gotten more popular over the last five to 10 years and gotten a lot more effective is shoulder arthroscopy: minimally invasive shoulder surgery that allows us to get into the shoulder without causing too much outside damage getting in, and doing our work, fixing the problem and getting out again.

Well, most orthopedic surgeons have some experience in shoulder surgery, but if you have a problem in the shoulder, it's probably best that you seek someone who is a shoulder-trained or has a lot of shoulder experience as what they do the majority of their time in their orthopedic practice. Typically, that's a sports medicine doctor. A sports medicine-trained orthopedic surgeon does more of the arthroscopic types procedures. But it depends--depending on what you have, you may need a shoulder replacement type of surgery.

Shoulder arthroplasty is shoulder replacement. And in fact, just like you can do a total knee or a total hip replacement, you can also to do a total shoulder replacement. And over the course of the last 10 years, what we've seen is not only the use of better materials in shoulder replacement that allow longer life--longer lifespan of the replacement--but in addition, you've seen newer technologies.

So for example, you can have a bone-sparing procedure where, if you're younger, and you may need another replacement 20 or 30 years down the line, you preserve the bone stock, so that makes revision easier. In addition, there have been specialized treatments for young, active patients in their 40s that allow them to get back to doing what they were doing, where a shoulder replacement might not have been available to them 10 to 15 years ago.

Evaluating Hospital Programs

When you're talking about a more major surgery, you're needing to have the specialized equipment in the hospital, especially trained techs for the surgery itself and the implants that are required, and then you're going to have the rehab program afterwards that really makes the most effective use of your surgery.

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"Treatment for rotator cuff injuries has undergone a big change in the last five to ten years. We’re better at treating it with new, advanced procedures."

Dr. Nicholas Colyvas
Director, Shoulder Surgery Program
El Camino Hospital Los Gatos