Have these 19 shoulder arthroscopy questions ready for your surgeon.

Don’t wait until the day of your shoulder arthroscopy to ask these crucial questions to the surgeon.

If you’re suffering from shoulder pain and have decided to see a “shoulder doctor,” take these questions with you just in case the doctor says you might need an operation.

It is not impossible for a doctor to tell a patient that an operation might be needed, even though the patient has not had any imaging tests of the shoulder.

Someone I know was told by a doctor that he might need knee arthroscopy or a total knee replacement, even though no imaging tests had been done on his knee.

Now, suppose you’ve had an MRI of your painful shoulder and the report says you have tears in the tendons.

There’s a chance that you’ll need arthroscopy of your shoulder; so when you see the orthopedic doctor, be prepared.

He might say you need shoulder arthroscopy, so bring the list of questions below, which were prepared by Edmond Cleeman, MD, a board certified orthopedic surgeon who specializes in sports medicine and arthroscopic surgery of the shoulder, knee and hip.

Preliminary Questions to Ask Surgeon About Shoulder Arthroscopy

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1. Ask the doctor about his/her experience with this procedure (do they perform 10/yr or 100/yr).

2. Ask about alternatives to surgical treatment (i.e., activity modification, medications, physical therapy, steroid injection, PRP injection, etc.)

3. Is there a downside to postponing surgery? For example, a rotator cuff tear left untreated over time will enlarge, retract, scar, atrophy, and eventually become irreparable. On the other hand, a labrum tear may do well without surgery.

4. Ask the doctor to draw a picture of the problem (i.e., torn RC) and a picture of how it is repaired.

I found this tremendously helpful for patients to better comprehend the problem.

6. Ask the doctor for a reputable website to get more info (lots of misinformation out there).

I often refer my patients to the AAOS (American Academy of Orthopedic Surgery) website – has accurate info.

7. Is the operation covered? Make sure the doctor’s office gets preauthorization from insurance company. Does the hospital and anesthesia accept your insurance?

Final questions to ask surgeon regarding arthroscopic surgery of shoulder:

1. What are the risks of surgery?

2. What are the success rates for the procedure? In biology and medicine there is no such thing as 100% success (does not mean that a nonsuccessful outcome equals a complication or mistake).

3. What is the patient’s expectations (important question for the doctor to ask: Surgery may reduce almost all pain but maybe the patient can’t throw the ball as hard as before the injury).

4. What kind of anesthesia (regional block – numb up the arm or general anesthesia)?

5. Can patient go home same day or is overnight stay necessary?

6. How much pain will there be post-op? What kind of medication needed?

After RC surgery there is significant pain, especially at night. Get pain prescription prior to surgery date so it can be filled.

7. Will a sling be necessary and for how long?

8. Return to work? Return to sport?

Preop questions to ask surgeon regarding arthroscopic shoulder surgery:

1.  Ask if need to stop certain meds (i.e., aspirin and other blood thinners).

2.  When to stop eating (usually midnight)?

3.  Should someone accompany you home?

4.  Where to go and at what time?

Dr. Cleeman is a highly experienced orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist at Manhattan Orthopedics. He is committed to performing advanced minimally invasive procedures, allowing his patients to go home the same day.
Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained women and men of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health.