Glenohumeral Debridement Explained

Glenohumeral debridement is an orthopaedic procedure that can help repair damage to soft tissue in the shoulder joint. This article will explore glenohumeral debridement as a treatment and will discuss when it is recommended.


Overview of glenohumeral debridement

The shoulder joint is a complex structure that involves the bones that compose the joint, cartilage, supportive soft tissue, and muscle. Sometimes, the soft tissue surrounding the shoulder joint can suffer damage or experience inflammation, which can lead to pain and stiffness in the joint. Arthritis, or the wearing away of cartilage within the joint itself, can also cause considerable damage to the joint.  

During a glenohumeral debridement procedure, an orthopaedic surgeon will insert a small camera, or an arthroscope, through a small incision in the shoulder. The camera’s view will project onto a screen in the operating room, which allows the surgeon to inspect the interior of the joint and identify areas of damage or injury.

Based on the diagnosis of any damage to the shoulder joint, the surgeon will then use small tools to repair the damage. During a glenohumeral debridement procedure, loose cartilage and bone spurs are removed to restore the integrity of the joint. Damaged soft tissue can also be removed if necessary to prevent further injury.

Glenohumeral debridement is a minimally invasive procedure that allows an orthopaedic surgeon to view the interior of the joint to more precisely diagnose the source of pain or other symptoms. The name of the procedure is based on the two major bone structures that compose the shoulder joint: the glenoid (the rounded part of the shoulder blade) and the head of the humerus (upper arm bone), which attaches to the glenoid.


Causes of shoulder joint conditions

Because the shoulder joint is used frequently in both daily life and sports, it is fairly susceptible to injury and damage. Common causes of deterioration in the shoulder joint that may lead to glenohumeral debridement can include

  •       Age-related wear-and-tear (the development of arthritis in the shoulder joint)
  •       Overuse or repetitive stress (particularly from sports like swimming or throwing)
  •       Traumatic injury that damages the cartilage or soft tissue in the shoulder joint

These factors can increase the risk of developing conditions that damage the bone, cartilage, or soft tissue in the shoulder joint. Glenohumeral debridement may be recommended in these cases if an orthopaedic specialist determines that arthroscopic surgery could help remove damaged tissue or cartilage in the joint.


Symptoms of shoulder joint conditions

Conditions that affect the shoulder joint can produce a variety of symptoms, including

  •       Persistent pain
  •       Stiffness
  •       Tenderness to the touch
  •       Swelling and inflammation
  •       Limited range of motion
  •       Difficulty moving the shoulder normally
  •       Feelings of locking or catching in the shoulder joint
  •       Grinding in the shoulder

These symptoms can arise as a result of arthritis in the shoulder joint or injury to the soft tissue that surrounds and supports the joint. Glenohumeral debridement may help offer relief from these symptoms depending on the underlying cause. 

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, seek medical attention to avoid further injury to the joint.


Treatments for shoulder joint conditions: glenohumeral debridement

Glenohumeral debridement is an orthopaedic procedure that involves removing damaged tissue and cartilage in the shoulder joint to relieve pain and inflammation and to restore a normal range of motion in the joint.

The procedure is much less invasive than traditional open surgery and requires only small incisions. Since it is an arthroscopic procedure, the surgeon can also more easily locate signs of other damage within the joint based on a close inspection. Recovery times are also typically shorter for this procedure than for open surgery since it is less severe.

An orthopaedic surgeon will determine the best course of treatment based on the individual case.


Glenohumeral debridement at OAR

The shoulder is an important joint that plays a large role in daily life. If you are experiencing persistent shoulder pain or stiffness, our team of experienced orthopaedic specialists and surgeons are ready to help you find a treatment that will help you get back to the things you love.

Book an appointment with us today!


Only a doctor can tell you if you have this ailment. This is for informational purposes and should not be used in lieu of a doctor’s opinion.