Acromioplasty, or subacromial decompression, is a surgical procedure of the acromion, which is the top of the shoulder blade. This form of arthroscopic surgery removes a tiny portion of the acromion that is damaging surrounding tendon tissue.

Arthroscopic acromioplasty is commonly used to treat impingement syndrome which results from rotator cuff muscle injury, a condition most commonly seen in older adults. This syndrome causes the tendons to become inflamed as the pass beneath the acromion, resulting in weakness, pain and even loss of movement. It may become difficult to reach overhead without moderate to severe pain.

During the surgery, a few tiny incisions are made in the shoulder and an arthroscope and camera is used to check for subacromial impingement. To release the pressure on the tendon that’s become trapped, a small section of the bone on the underside of the acromion is either shaved or removed. Other injuries identified may also be treated during the surgery.

Arthroscopic acromioplasty typically offers immediate and dramatic symptom relief, although it may be a few months before symptoms completely abate. It’s important to follow through with physical therapy to achieve maximum benefits.