There is scientific evidence that supports early surgery for younger patients who are at high risk for repeat shoulder dislocation.
In previous blogs, I have reviewed the risk of recurrent shoulder dislocation after a single shoulder dislocation. For young people (less than 35 years old for purposes of this discussion), the risk of repeated shoulder dislocations is high after a single event. Each dislocation leads to further damage that may lead to a more significant surgery and risk of arthritis. The risk of recurrence is dramatically reduced with an arthroscopic stabilization procedure.
A recent article found that in addition to the number of dislocations, the time from the event to surgery is an important factor. Those who had surgery 6 months after the initial event, were more likely to continue to dislocate.
Presumably the patients who waited to have their shoulder stabilized were more likely to have further dislocations and the healing response was not the same. This study provides further evidence that arthroscopic repair should be performed soon after a first dislocation for young patients.
In my practice, I advise patients under the age of 35 to have an arthroscopic stabilization in most cases after a single dislocation. An arthroscopic procedure is low-risk, lowers the risk of recurrence, and potentially prevents more severe damage to the shoulder.
Dr. Patrick Denard has been voted one of the top 20 Shoulder Surgeons in North America, and is the most widely published shoulder specialist in Oregon.