Shoulder Surgery -
Post Operative Exercises
Preparing for Post-Operative Recovery
Before undergoing any major surgery, it is well advised to prepare yourself for the journey ahead. Your surgeon will talk you through the procedure, but it is up to you to ensure that you are ready to return home after the surgery.
It is important to have someone drive you home, and possibly stay with you for the first night back, just in case there are any unexpected complications.
You are likely to experience stiffness, bruising, and swelling, so it is best to keep your shoulder as still as possible in the healing process.
The stages of rehabilitation
A full recovery from shoulder surgery may take as long as 6 months, and it is essential that you don’t rush the recovery, give your shoulder adequate opportunity to heal, and not to undertake any exercises without the instruction of your physiotherapist.
Don’t get physical too soon.
Start with passive physical therapy. Working with your physio, you can commence your rehab with gentle assisted exercises to regain movement and mobility in the arm.
Let physio work for you.
To protect the soft tissue around the shoulder, it is important to work with a physiotherapist during the rehab process. They will keep the shoulder in position, and prevent long term damage.
Follow correct exercise regime.
Don’t rush the process, and take your time before conducting any overhead exercises.
Once you’ve regained full use of the elbow, you should continue working with your physio to prevent further injuries.
It is best to start all post-operative exercises with the support and guidance of your physical therapist. The following are effective techniques used to restore your shoulder function.
Assisted shoulder elevation
To be performed either lying down or sitting down, assisted shoulder elevation exercises involve the holding of hands above the head, and keeping the elbows as straight as possible. Keep your arms up for 10 – 20 seconds, and then lower them slowly.
This can be repeated 10 – 20 times, and you can increase the elevation of the arms over time, as your pain permits.
Complete exercises three times a day.
Rotator Cuff Strength
In a standing position, hold hands behind your back, then stretch them out as much as possible, and lift them up and down to slowly add pressure to your shoulders.
There are 7 pulley exercises, and they can be performed while seated or standing. Use your own comfort level as a guide, and hold each stretch for ten seconds.
- Side-lying external rotation exercise
- Seated external rotation exercise
- Shoulder external rotation isometric (Static hold)
- Standing banded row exercise
- Seated Cuban rotation
- Standing Cuban rotation
Exercise can be conducted sitting or standing, and involves the clasping of hands, and then lifting arms above the head, whilst keeping the elbows as straight as possible.
Maintain the position for 10-20 seconds, and slowly lower the arms.
Internal rotation exercises can be performed seated or lying down.
- Lie down on a firm surface with your elbows to the side.
- Using the hand on the side of the injured shoulder, and using a small weight, bend the arm 90 degrees away from the body.
- Hold, and return arm, hold again, and repeat.
In the seated position, move arms forwards, and straighten them as much as you can. Then use one arm at a time, to reach, as if trying to pick up something. Repeat with more pressure, as pain allows.
Posterior capsular stretches
Strengthening exercises with a rubber band.
While lying down on the affected shoulder, you bend your shoulder 90 degrees, and lift a small weight when bringing the arm back to its original position.
Repeat the action, and change sides if you’re able to.
Put a small cushion between your arm and chest, and squeeze, and hold for 10 seconds.
Repeat this action for ten times, three times a day.
Here are a few tips to help you recover at home.
- Talk to your doctor about what pain medication they can recommend.
- Wear loose fitting clothing.
- *Set up your bed so that you sleep on the opposite side of the affected shoulder, or sleep on your back. Keep your arm in the sling when sleeping.
- Have an ice pack on hand to reduce pain and inflammation.
- Make sure your home is set up for your return.
- Get a shower set-up with a removable shower head. This will help you stay clean, and keep your dressing dry.
- A pump action soap and shampoo container will make showering easier.
- Keep an eye out for complications. Contact your doctor if you notice a yellow discharge, experience numbness or tingling, if you are in severe pain, or if you have a high fever.
- Don’t drive for up to 6 weeks after surgery.
Shoulder Arthroscopy FAQ Post Operative Exercises
How Dr James McLean can help
Dr James McLean provides consultation and various treatments for a wide variety of shoulder conditions in Adelaide.
With his extensive experience in treating upper limb conditions, he works with his patients to create tailored treatment plans which yield the best possible outcomes for their injuries.
Click here for more information on other conditions involving the shoulder, hand, wrist, and elbow which Dr James McLean has a special interest in treating.