Rehabilitation After Shoulder Surgery
Shoulder surgery is performed for any number of reasons, including repairing a torn rotator cuff, correcting shoulder instability, or repositioning a dislocated shoulder. After surgery, the shoulder is susceptible to reinjury, so it is important to closely follow rehabilitation guidelines to ensure proper healing and regain full range of motion. To help restore the shoulder's full function, physical therapy is an essential part of rehabilitation.
Physical therapy often begins shortly after surgery; it helps restore strength and movement, and allows patients to gradually resume their regular activities. To help control pain and swelling, initial physical therapy treatments include ice, electrical stimulation and massage. As healing begins, exercises may be used to increase movement and mobility. Physical therapy exercises focus on improving the strength and control of shoulder muscles, and the muscles around the shoulder blade. Treatment includes the following:
- Muscle-strengthening exercises
- Shoulder-girdle-stabilization exercises
- Weight-bearing activities (weight is gradually increased)
- Range-of-motion exercises
The physical therapist may also make suggestions and create exercises for improving posture and shoulder alignment, as well as advise patients on how to perform activities and exercises without reinjuring the shoulder.
A rehabilitation program after shoulder surgery is usually directly linked to the severity of the initial injury, and the type of repair that was performed. Severe injuries that require more-complex surgery may have a longer period of rehabilitation than those that require less-invasive surgery. Most patients receive physical therapy for about 4 months, at which time they can usually return to all regular physical activity.