Shoulder Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation

Note: This information is provided for general educational purposes only. Because every individual is different, these instructions will not apply to every patient. Only your doctor can tell you what is appropriate for you.

For most shoulder surgeries, you will be doing your own physical therapy for the first 8-12 weeks after your operation. The goal is to achieve full shoulder motion by doing passive range-of-motion exercises (not strengthening exercises) at home during this time. A physical therapist will instruct you the day after your surgery while you're in the hospital. At that time you will most likely be given a copy of one of our home therapy protocols:

  1. Full Shoulder ProtocolFull Shoulder Protocol - for home therapy
  2. Limited Shoulder ProtocolLimited Shoulder Protocol - for home therapy

You should also receive hospital discharge instructions:

Discharge InstructionsDischarge instructions - what to do at home after your surgery

At home, you may wish to use a shoulder therapy kit (these are available from Pacific Medical, Inc.). If you choose to do so, keep in mind that you should not use the colorful elastic stretching bands that are included in the shoulder therapy kits for the first 12 weeks; you will not start strengthening exercises until three months after your surgery unless instructed to do so by your doctor. A prescription will be given to you to visit a physical therapist for supervised strengthening exercises when your doctor feels that it is appropriate.

It cannot be overemphasized that aggressive, early strengthening exercises are to be discouraged if your rotator cuff was repaired during your surgery. The cuff is repaired during a typical shoulder replacement. Remember, three months after your surgery the muscle tendons that were repaired will only have regained 50% of their previous strength! Overdoing it too soon can cause the tendon to tear from the bone, which may require an additional surgery!

Some images on this site are used courtesy of:

Pacific Medical

 
shouldersurgeon.com AC Joint Arthritis and Total Shoulder Replacement Arthroscopic Shoulder Surgery
FAQs Fractures and Dislocations Frozen Shoulder Impingement Interactive Shoulder
Physical Therapy Rotator Cuff Tears Shoulder and Elbow Anatomy Shoulder Instability Terminology
shouldersurgeon.com shouldersurgeon.com shouldersurgeon.com
Seeing a Shoulder Specialist Our Authors Site Policy