As with most any surgical procedure, physical therapy is an integral part of shoulder surgery rehab. In most cases, shoulder therapy is done both before (pre-hab) the surgery and after (post-rehab).
Pre-hab shoulder therapy
The benefits of pre-hab shoulder therapy are increasingly recognized in treatments involving shoulder surgery. Pre-hab shoulder therapy is meant to increase the rate of recovery after surgery. However, being that the shoulder is already injured and/or weakened prior to surgery, pre-hab exercises are not very strenuous on the shoulder joint. With that in mind, if the patient is able to start earlier (with some pre-hab therapy), it can lead to better post-surgical results.
Typically started around six weeks prior to surgery, pre-hab therapy includes various range of motion exercises. Your therapist will design a regimen for your specific needs, but the common goal of pre-hab exercises is to keep the shoulder supple, strong and flexible – while at the same time ensuring that more damage is not caused. Exercises that strain the shoulder such as weight training should be avoided.
Post-rehab shoulder therapy
After surgery, physical therapy is essential to ensure that the shoulder heals fully and correctly. A few days after surgery, the patient will normally exercise their arm while keeping the shoulder stable. This includes flexing the wrist and the elbow and pendulums. Pendulums involve dangling one’s arm and using body weight to swing the arm back and forth. At this stage, care should be taken to make sure that movement is not generated by the shoulder, as it can cause tearing.
As physical therapy progresses, the next stage is passive movement. Passive movement is meant to keep the shoulder supple and flexible during the healing process. During passive movement, the arm will be moved by a nurse or a machine.
At around the 5th or 6th week after surgery, the shoulder is sufficiently healed to allow it to move without a high risk of causing damage. This stage involves moving the shoulder joint at different angles gradually, until near optimal range of motion is recovered. Strength training is also included in this phase. The patient typically has to support the shoulder initially until it becomes more supple and strong. During this stage, free weights and elastic bands may be used for strength training.
At about 4 months, the patient is usually fully recovered and can do more strenuous strength training exercises such as push-ups in addition to participating in sports. One should, however, avoid contact sports until they are truly recovered.
It’s important to keep in mind when undergoing shoulder therapy that patience and rest are as important as the physical therapy itself, if not more important. Trying to do too much too soon could be detrimental to a patient’s recovery progress.
Plano Therapy Center
Before embarking on any physical therapy, it’s always important to talk to a professional. At Plano Therapy Center, we focus on sports specific rehabilitation, degenerative conditions, pre and post-operative orthopedics, and workers compensation cases. Always striving to meet and exceed our patient’s goals, our experienced staff offers expert care and personal attention throughout the shoulder therapy and recovery process. With two convenient locations to serve you, in Plano and Allen, we look forward to serving you with a commitment to excellence second to none! Contact Us today