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Is surgery the only option to treat shoulder pain?

Q: My 46 years old wife is suffering from right shoulder pain for the last 3 years. The MRI report showed a slight bone growth in the right shoulder . It jams the muscle of the right shoulder when she lifts the hand upwards or backwards and suffers a severe pain. The doctor advised removal of the bone growth through key hole surgery. Is it safe? The doctor said only surgery is the remedy to overcome the pain. Please advise.

A:From your description it seems your doctor is suggesting a surgery called acromioplasty. This surgery is indicated when there is significant impingement of the acromion on to the underlined soft tissue. Acromion is a prominent bone that you feel under the skin at the tip of the shoulder. Medically the impingement is graded in to I, II or III severity and the acromioplasty is indicated in grade – III severity. Usually physical therapy with anti-inflammatory drug is tried first and if the patient is not benefiting within two to four months of treatment, he/she can be considered for acromioplasty. The follow-up results depend on the associated damages to the muscle complex that help elevating the shoulder. Patients are mobilized as early as possible within limits of pain tolerance and usually the patient is allowed a range of movement exercises and is able to regain movements in three to four weeks. In centers where the procedure is done frequently, this should be a the reasonably safe procedure.

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