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Questions to Ask Your Orthopedic Surgeon Before Shoulder Surgery

Questions to Ask Your Orthopedic Surgeon Before Shoulder Surgery

Having surgery can consume your thoughts in the days and weeks leading up to the event. To help you prepare yourself for surgery and recovery, it’s a good idea to ask your doctor for more information about what’s being done and what to expect.

If you’re looking for an orthopedic surgeon, San Francisco-based Dr. Jeffrey Helbrecht sees patients at The Institute for Arthroscopy & Sports Medicine (IASM) in San Francisco, California. He routinely performs arthroscopic and open shoulder surgeries, and is uniquely qualified to answer all your orthopedic surgical questions. 

Types of Shoulder Surgery

There are two main types of shoulder surgery: arthroscopic, and open. Each has pros and cons and different recovery times and results. The type of surgery Dr. Halbrecht recommends will be based on his assessment of the severity of your shoulder injury and what part of the shoulder is damaged.


In many cases, minor damage to the shoulder joint can be performed arthroscopically, using tiny incisions and very small tools to complete repairs without having to open the entire joint. This approach may be the one used by your shoulder surgeon in San Francisco if you have a minor labral tear, a severe shoulder dislocation requiring repairs, or other damage easily reached and resolved with arthroscopic shoulder surgery.


Open shoulder surgery is done when damage to the shoulder joint is extensive, or damage has been sustained by more than one part (tendons, ligaments, muscles, etc.) Open surgery is used for shoulder replacements as well as in some severe rotator cuff tear cases where arthroscopic measures won’t suffice. Your rotator cuff doctor in San Francisco will consult with you about which option is best for your specific situation.

Questions to ask before surgery

  1. Will it be an arthroscopic or open surgery?
  2. What is the length of time I’ll be in the hospital or unable to drive?
  3. Will I regain range of motion similar to what I had before my injury?
  4. Will I need help doing daily tasks like bathing, dressing, and personal hygiene?
  5. How soon can I return to regular activity or sports?
  6. Will I need more than over-the-counter pain relief during recovery?
  7. Will I need to wear a brace for my shoulder to immobilize it after surgery?
  8. Are there physical therapy exercises I’ll need to do to rehabilitate the shoulder?
  9. What is your success rate for this type of shoulder surgery?
  10. Are there any risks or side effects I should be aware of going into surgery?

Asking these questions can help you be fully prepared for the surgery ahead and help you get ready by lining up help if you need it and planning for downtime.

Need shoulder surgery? Why not inquire about Dr. Jeffrey Halbrecht doing your procedure? You can call the IASM office at 415-233-7996, or book an appointment online today.

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