Dr Christopher Pullen

Shoulder Arthroscopy Melbourne

A Patient’s Guide:

 Dr Christopher Pullen – BSc(Hons), MBBS, MPH, FRACS, FAorthoA.
Orthopaedic Surgeon

“I may recommend a shoulder arthroscopy if you have a painful condition that does not respond to nonsurgical treatment including rest, physical therapy, medications and injections.

Prior to recommending surgery, I will undertake a thorough clinical examination, discuss your diagnosis and detail the treatment options to ensure you understand the benefits and potential complications.”


What are the joints, muscles and ligaments in your shoulder?

The shoulder is made up of three bones:

(1) The Scapula (shoulder blade), (2) Clavicle (collarbone) and; (3) Humerus (upper arm bone)

The shoulder joint is formed where the humerus (upper arm bone) fits into the scapula (shoulder blade), like a ball and socket.

Other important shoulder bones include:

The acromion – The bony projection off the scapula.
The clavicle (collarbone) – This meets the acromion in the acromioclavicular joint.
The coracoid process – The hook-like bony projection from the scapula.

The shoulder has several other important structures including:

The rotator cuff – A collection of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder, giving it support and allowing a wide range of motion.
The bursa – A small sac of fluid that cushions and protects the tendons of the rotator cuff.
The labrum – A cuff of cartilage that forms a lip for the ball-like head of the humerus to fit into the socket.

The humerus fits relatively loosely into the shoulder joint, allowing the shoulder a wide range of motion.

Shoulder Anatomy

Ankle Anatomy Image

Figure 1


The shoulder joint allows for a wide range of movement but this makes it vulnerable to injury. The most common shoulder injuries include:

Frozen shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis) – Inflammation develops in the shoulder that causes pain and stiffness  that limits movement.

Shoulder instability – When muscles and ligaments that hold the shoulder together are stretched beyond their normal limits.

 – “Wear-and-tear” of the bearing joint surfaces that often occurs with ageing or after injury.

Rotator cuff tear
– A tear in one of the muscles or tendons surrounding the top of the humerus.

Shoulder impingement
– The acromion (edge of the scapula) presses on the rotator cuff as the arm is lifted.

Shoulder dislocation
 – When the humerus slips out of the socket.

Shoulder tendonitis – Inflammation of one of the tendons of the rotator cuff.


A shoulder arthroscopy is a procedure that orthopaedic surgeons use to inspect, diagnose, and treat problems inside the shoulder joint.

An anaesthetic will be needed for your surgery. The anaesthetist will discuss this with you prior to your arthroscopy.

During a shoulder arthroscopy, Dr Pullen inserts a small camera, called an arthroscope, into your shoulder joint.

The camera displays the pictures of the shoulder joint on a video monitor where Dr Pullen can assess and in some cases treat shoulder problems.

The arthroscope and surgical instruments are small, with the incisions commonly 2-3cm in size.

The small incisions result in less pain for patients and shortens the time it takes to recover from the operation.

Shoulder arthroscopy has been performed for over 40 years, is very safe and has made recovery from shoulder surgery faster.

Shoulder Arthroscopy Melbourne


What happens after surgery?

At the end of the surgery your shoulder is washed out with fluid and bleeding controlled. The incisions are closed with stitches and a bandage is applied.

After the surgery, Dr Pullen will discuss the results of the procedure with you. Your shoulder will be swollen and painful and you will be given painkillers and an ice pack to help ease the pain. Fluid leaks from the wounds after surgery and a large bandage will be used to cover and protect the wounds.

Usually you will need to stay in hospital overnight. Most patients can go home the next day.

The next morning your bandages will be changed and a physiotherapist will see you and tell you which exercises and activities you may undertake to help your recovery. You can shower but must dry the wounds carefully.

It is normal to have pain after surgery and painkillers will be given to you to take home. Your pain will slowly reduce over time.
An appointment will have already been made for you to see Dr Pullen in 10 to 14 days after your surgery.


The recovery period varies from patient to patient and depends on the nature and complexity of the surgery. A typical recovery timeline for an arthroscopy may include:

Timeline – After surgeryDescription
0 to 2 weeksYour shoulder will be bandaged to help protect it and allow your surgical wound to heal. Avoid lifting anything heavier than a plate or a glass. A sling may be used to hold your shoulder for 7 to 10 days.
3 to 6 weeksYou may start physical therapy and gentle movement to help regain mobility and strength.
6 to 12 weeksYou may be allowed to perform a limited range of arm movements. You may need to avoid lifting heavy objects.
3 to 4 monthsThis is a period when you will begin to strengthen your shoulder and arm muscles.
5 to 6 monthsMost people need physical therapy for at least six months after surgery.

Please contact my office or your general practitioner if after surgery you have:

  • Severe pain that is not helped by the pain medication you have been given
  • Redness or swelling around the wounds
  • Fever, sweats or chills.


The surgery complications which may occur after a shoulder arthroscopy may include:

  • Shoulder pain
  • Shoulder swelling
  • Shoulder stiffness and restricted movement
  • Infection
  • Numbness or tingling around the shoulder.

Dr Pullen will discuss with you in detail the potential complications and risks in relation to the surgery.

Mr Troy Keith
Dr Christopher Pullen
BSc(Hons), MBBS, MPH, FRACS, FAorthoA.
Orthopaedic Surgeon

If you have any questions please contact my team:

 Shoulder Arthroscopy Melbourne:
Dr Christopher Pullen – Orthopaedic Surgeon

If you have any questions or would like to make an appointment, please feel free to contact my team:

Shoulder Arthroscopy Melbourne

Dr Pullen treats patients from all over Victoria in relation to shoulder injuries. He consults with patients at the following practice locations in Melbourne including East Melbourne and Ringwood.