Searching for physical therapy after shoulder surgery in Visalia or Hanford? We can help – read more below.
If you decide to have shoulder surgery, physical therapy is an integral part of the recovery process
The shoulder is an incredible joint. As the only joint in the body that can rotate a full 360°, the shoulder is the most mobile and flexible joint in the body, and this wide range of motion is the reason you can move your arm in so many directions. There is, however, one downside to all this mobility: it makes the shoulder particularly vulnerable to injury.
The Shoulder Joint is Complex – Therefore, There are All Kinds of Potential Problems
Although the shoulder is typically referred to as a single joint, it is technically more complex and consists of four joints, with the acromioclavicular and glenohumeral joints being the most important for movement. Bones of the shoulders are connected by several ligaments, while muscles connect to bones through various tendons. Other important structures of the shoulder include the rotator cuff, a group of four muscles that form a “cuff” around the upper arm bone, a ring of protective cartilage (the labrum), a fluid-filled sac that provides cushioning (the bursa), and the joint capsule, which encloses all the components of the shoulder.
Any of these structures can become damaged and lead to shoulder-related disability. The rotator cuff is one of the most commonly injured areas of the shoulder, with a condition called rotator cuff tendinitis being the most prevalent cause of shoulder pain. Tears of the rotator cuff also occur frequently, and these injuries can occur either traumatically from a single incident, or gradually over time, which is usually the case in older patients.
Physical Therapy After Rotator Cuff Surgery – We Can Help Both Visalia and Hanford Residents
In the event of shoulder pain from injury to the rotator cuff or any other structure of the shoulder, the patient will decide with a doctor whether surgery is needed or a conservative (non-surgical) approach—which primarily involves physical therapy—can be taken. Most shoulder injuries can be effectively treated with a conservative plan, but if this approach fails to produce significant improvements or the patient has suffered a severe injury like a high-grade, sudden rotator cuff tear, surgery may be needed. Surgery is also more likely to be selected by active athletes involved in overhead sports. If you’d like additional resources, the American Physical Therapy Association also has some details – click here.
Physical therapy also essential after surgery
If you have a shoulder injury and decide to have surgery, physical therapy will still serve as a fundamental component of the recovery process. Through a movement-based, individualized strategy, physical therapy will help to bring you back to full strength and function with targeted exercises and other interventions. A typical treatment program for patients recovering from shoulder surgery will likely include the following:
- Stretching and strengthening exercises: weakness and reduced flexibility/mobility are two major consequences of surgery, so the bulk of rehabilitation will aim to address these impairments; key exercises include:
- External rotation: using a resistance band or dumbbell, keep your elbow bent at a 90° angle and slowly move your hand out from the body
- Internal rotation: same as external rotation, but move your hand towards your body
- Forward flexion shoulder raise: holding a dumbbell, keep your arm straight and lift it directly in front of you until it’s at eye level
- Pendulum exercises: holding a dumbbell, let your arm hang loose and swing it around in a circle; then try swinging it back and forth
- Scapular squeezes: lie on your stomach with arms at your sides, draw your shoulder blades together and down back as far as possible; ease about halfway off from position and hold it
- Passive treatments: ice, heat, ultrasound, and other interventions will likely be utilized to alleviate shoulder pain
- Activity modification: your therapist will teach you how to avoid positions and movements that can aggravate pain and make the condition worse, like sleeping on your side and carrying heavy loads
Contact Us Today if You are in Need of Physical Therapy After Shoulder Surgery
Remember that you always have options after a shoulder injury of any sort, and surgery is not necessary for many patients. But if you do opt to go the surgical route, keep in mind that physical therapy will play a major role in your recovery, and that better adherence to your treatment will lead to improved outcomes. Contact us to learn more about how we manage patients recovering from shoulder surgery or to schedule an appointment today.