Regain quality of life at Sulis Hospital

It can be frustrating when shoulder pain stops you from doing the activities you love, whether that’s rugby, tennis, skiing, or anything in-between. But this award-winning Bath-based private hospital can help ease pain and get you back on the path to recovery.

Shoulder pain is common amongst sportspeople but can affect others too. When this pain presents itself, it not only disrupts your sport but can impact your day-to-day life. However, thanks to Sulis Hospital, your shoulder pain could be a thing of the past.

Recognised for its “specialist expertise and high standards of care,” the Shoulder Unit at Sulis Hospital is a Centre of Excellence for the treatment of shoulder problems. We spoke to orthopaedic consultant and shoulder specialist Gavin Jennings from Sulis Hospital who has a particular interest in performing advanced arthroscopic (keyhole) procedures to treat conditions ranging from instability of the shoulder to tendon damage.

He discusses treatment for instability in the shoulder which is a common condition: “A shoulder stabilisation operation is performed for a patient who has an unstable shoulder where the ball is slipping out of the socket.”

“What we’re trying to do with this operation is essentially restore normality. So, we would expect the shoulder to behave in the same way as the patient’s undamaged shoulder.”

“The shoulder inherently is a very mobile joint but that also means that there tend to be issues with stability and is the most commonly dislocated joint in the body.”

But why might a shoulder become unstable? Dislocation is “very common in contact sports such as rugby. But equally, we see plenty of patients who have fallen skiing or coming off a bicycle for example. They will then have problems where they feel they just don’t trust the shoulder and they will say ‘my shoulder feels unstable’.”

“There is usually some damage to the ligaments at the front of the socket and the cartilage, which is known as the labrum, as this pulls off at the time of the dislocation. So, what we’re aiming to do with shoulder stabilisation procedures is to fix that labrum back on.”

So, what should you expect at your initial consultation? “Diagnosis is usually fairly straight forward. What you are looking for is clear evidence that the labrum has pulled off. The way we do that is to get a special type of scan called an MRI arthrogram which involves putting some dye into the joint. When the labrum pulls away it forms a little cleft, the dye will run into that and it will show up very clearly on the scans. The idea of the operation is to repair this small piece of tissue back onto the socket.”

“This type of operation is done arthroscopically. A small cut will be made at the back of the shoulder and an arthroscope will be inserted, which is a special scope with a light on the end of a fiberoptic cable, which produces a digital image in high definition.”

“This gives us very accurate pictures of the inside of the joint as if we were actually in there looking at it ourselves. What this enables us to do is to make very good judgements about the levels of damage in the shoulder.”

“The other advantage of keyhole surgery is that we don’t do much damage at all in getting into the shoulder so we can go through fairly safe planes where we don’t need to take any tendons off or remove any muscles, unlike open operations. Also, the recovery is quicker.”

He went on to explain the success rate of the surgery: “We know that this operation will be successful in stabilising the shoulder and allowing return to sport in between about 80-90% of people, allowing them to get back to their full activities.

“So a high-level sports person or rugby player, for example, because they get a great deal of physiotherapy input and they’re being monitored very closely, can even be back to contact within eight weeks of the operation. A more average time would be three months to getting back to contact sport.”

He concludes: “This sort of surgery is extremely rewarding because you see a patient (often a young, very active patient) who enjoys their sport, enjoys activity and is quite unhappy when they can’t play their rugby, cricket, or tennis, and you help them regain that higher quality of life.”

Bath Magazine heard from Jake Gibson, a patient at Sulis Hospital, “My career as a dance teacher and personal trainer requires ease of movement every day, so successful shoulder surgery was crucial.

I couldn’t have lived the lifestyle I have with a high volume of movement without the operation. Quality of life is everything to me and I am grateful to the surgeon and specialist team at Sulis Hospital for their expertise.”

World-class Expertise
The specialist Centre of Excellence for Shoulder Surgery at Sulis Hospital brings together experienced Consultant Surgeons; Mr Andrew Chambler, Mr James Fagg, Mr Simon Gregg-Smith, and Mr Gavin Jennings and dedicated rehabilitation therapists to provide investigation, diagnosis, and treatment to get you back on your feet as quickly as possible.

A new way of thinking in healthcare
Sulis Hospital is a leading private hospital wholly-owned by the local NHS Trust and proud to be reinvesting back into the NHS.

For expert advice contact Sulis Hospital Bath (formally Circle Bath) please call 01761 422288 or enquire online | Sulis Hospital, Foxcote Avenue, Peasedown St John, Bath BA2 8SQ

*Like any surgery, shoulder stabilisation is an invasive procedure and is not risk-free. Always seek medical advice and give the procedure careful consideration before going ahead. It is important to note that results may vary depending on the age and health of the person.