The shoulder joint is a complex junction of three major bones: the rounded top of the humerus (upper arm bone) meets your clavicle (collarbone) and your scapula (shoulder blade). The joint is supported by the rotator cuff, which is a tight group of muscles and tendons.
Any cracks or tears in this area may require shoulder surgery to repair the injury properly, because the shoulder has so many parts that must work together. After surgery, several types of exercises can help you safely regain strength and range of motion in the joint. Let’s talk about why exercise and physical therapy are so important in achieving a full recovery, and who you can talk to about finding relief from your shoulder pain.
Why Exercise After Shoulder Surgery?
During the days after your operation, your shoulder needs to avoid any significant load. Otherwise, you risk causing injury and pain, and possibly undoing what was done in the surgery.
However, a total lack of shoulder movement will also prolong your recovery, so your physical therapist will help you with gentle and simple exercises. These exercises will help to increase blood flow to your recuperating shoulder, thereby increasing the rate of healing and restoring strength and flexibility.
The key to proper physical therapy and full rehabilitation is to build up a progression. At the start, you will do passive exercises designed to increase the shoulder’s range of motion; these exercises are called “passive” because the shoulder is not performing the movements, but rather someone is moving the arm. As your shoulder heals, you will be shown how to perform gradual movements so it becomes stronger and more flexible.
Passive Exercises for the Shoulder
In most cases, you will have to wear a splint or brace during your first few days. Once your shoulder is ready to be moved, your physical therapist will begin with passive exercises.
Your therapist will gently move your arm and shoulder, possibly with the help of machines or a pulley system. Even without using much (if any) of your own strength, these exercises will help your muscles and connective tissues get used to moving again.
Once your physical therapist has determined that your shoulder is ready for you to start moving it on your own strength, you will be shown how to carefully move the shoulder. You will likely begin with gripping and gentle pushing movements, so your shoulder grows accustomed to pressure and support. Your physical therapist will show you more advanced movements as your shoulder heals and becomes ready to perform more involved movements.
Once you are able to remove your brace or splint, the therapist might ask you to raise your arms forward or to the sides. You may also slowly swivel your forearms to train shoulder rotation. Your doctor will give some direction to the therapist regarding how far to go in your therapy, depending on your health condition.
Quality Orthopedic Care in Northeast Tennessee
Physical therapy exercises after shoulder surgery follow a general progression to further strengthen your shoulder. If you are experiencing chronic or intermittent shoulder pain, have an evaluation by one of our experienced doctors here at Watauga Orthopaedics. We offer many different treatments, and we will discuss your options with you so you can get back to living pain-free again.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment with one of our skilled physicians, contact our friendly staff today by calling (423) 282-9011 or book an appointment online now. We look forward to helping you enjoy the active lifestyle you love!