A recent study has shown that shoulder dislocations might actually heal faster without surgery.
The research was published in the Journal of Orthopedic Trauma, and was conducted by a team of experts led by Dr. Michael McKee, orthopedic surgeon at St. Michael’s Hospital.
Scientists carried out a randomized clinical trial, after recruiting a group of 83 patients, who had suffered moderate to severe shoulder injuries, also known as acromio-clavicular (AC) joint dislocations.
40 of these subjects were treated through surgical correction, by using a plate and screws in order to restore the joint.
On other hand, 43 individuals didn’t have any surgery, and were simply required to wear a sling and complete a process of rehabilitation.
For a study period spanning across 2 years, researchers monitored complications that had arisen, levels of disability and patient satisfaction.
Overall, it was determined that participants who hadn’t gone under the knife actually healed much faster, with fewer complications.
In the nonsurgical category, when six-week and three-month medical examinations were carried out, shoulder mobility was assessed as superior in comparison with that of the patients who had undergone surgical corrections.
No major differences were identified between the 2 study groups in follow-ups conducted after 6 months, a year or two years.
Moreover, when it came to reprising former activities, it was determined that three-quarters of those who only wore a sling and underwent physical therapy were able to return to work after 3 months.
In contrast, just 43% of the subjects that had required surgery felt rejuvenated enough to resume their job responsibilities after 3 months.
As far as complications were concerned, two patients in the non-surgery group experienced issues in their recovery, but those were actually connected to accidental falls which occurred during that period.
On the other hand, 7 of the 40 participants who required surgery were affected by major complications, related to deep wound infections or loose plates, and 7 others suffered less significant adverse effects such as numbness and minor infections.
Surgery proved more effective only from an aesthetic point of view, given the fact that it allows the joint to be correctly reattached, making the shoulder look more symmetrical.
Around 21% of those who didn’t undergo surgical operation were unhappy about the way their shoulder had healed.
In contrast, orthopedic surgeons discovered that just 3% of the patients who had this medical procedure were disappointed with how their restored shoulder looked.
“While satisfaction with appearance of the shoulder should be a consideration, I believe surgeons should think twice about recommending surgery for an AC joint dislocation – regardless of the severity”, concluded Dr. McKee.
According to him, with the exception of extremely dangerous shoulder dislocations, the benefits of eschewing surgery after such injuries greatly outweigh the potential disadvantages.
As he explained, nonsurgical patients heal more quickly, experience fewer complications and are able to resume their former activities much faster.
Normally, shoulder dislocations result from overly excessive and intense physical effort, but they can also be caused by sports injuries, accidents or falls.
Image Source: Flickr