Orthopedic surgery for your shoulders, knees, hands, and elbows can make daily life easier.
Whether you play sports or simply spend a fair amount of your day carrying out various repetitious tasks, it’s safe to assume you expect your shoulders, knees, hands, and elbows to function properly without causing you significant or persistent pain.
However, these highly mobile joints are also susceptible to injury and damage from degenerative (age-related) conditions like arthritis and added stress and strain. If initial pain management efforts involving physical therapy, therapeutic injections, and medication aren’t effective, orthopedic surgery may become an option.
Shoulders are often affected by injuries affecting a group of muscles and tendons around this joint known as the rotator cuff. Surgery may also be recommended because of preexisting deformities, severe fractures, or serious infections. If a shoulder is repeatedly dislocated, surgery is sometimes necessary to stabilize the joint and correct issues with supporting tissues. Shoulder surgery can also involve:
- Arthroscopic surgery to loosen tense tissues or remove damaged cartilage
- Repair of superior labrum anterior and posterior (SLAP) tears
- Reattachment of damaged shoulder tendons
- Acromioclavicular (AC) joint repairs
- Complete or partial shoulder joint replacement
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of four major knee ligaments that may become injured enough to warrant surgery. Meniscus tears, severe kneecap dislocations, and fractures can also destabilize the knee and make it difficult or impossible to play sports or even walk. Surgery on knees to correct tears or remove damaged materials is often performed with arthroscopic or minimally invasive techniques. Other types of commonly performed knee procedures include:
- Meniscus removal (meniscectomy) or meniscus transplant
- ACL reconstruction
- Knee replacement (partial or total)
- Plica removal
- Knee tendon or muscle repair
- Lateral release
Hand and Elbow Surgeries
Hand and elbow injuries are often the result of repetitious work-related or sports-related movements. For instance, amateur or professional athletes with elbow tendons are severely strained or damaged (tennis elbow) may benefit from arthroscopic or open surgery. Degenerative conditions like osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can also affect tissues in hands, wrists, and elbows to the point where surgery is the best option for relief and return to normal function. Common procedures that may be performed on hands and elbows also include:
- Repositioning of dislocated finger or elbow joints or bones
- Skin grafts to correct damage from severe burns or infections
- Finger/hand bone realignment (closed reduction and fixation)
- Finger/thumb reattachment
- Wrist/hand joint replacement to correct damage from degenerative conditions
- Carpal tunnel release to treat carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS)
Not every possible injury or condition that can affect shoulders, knees, hands, or elbows is preventable. But what you can do is get into the habit of taking positive and proactive steps to keep these joints healthy. If you’re an athlete, for instance, you might get into the habit of warming up properly and reducing repetitious stress on the joints you use to swing, throw, pitch, jab, serve, or reach. It can be just as beneficial if you avoid foods that tend to trigger joint-related inflammation, eat nutrient-rich foods, and get regular exercise that targets the muscles, ligaments, and tendons that support your shoulder, knee, hand, and elbow joints.