Rehabilitation following shoulder arthroplasty or debridement requires teamwork between the patient, physician, and physical therapist. Good communication will optimize the patient's results and allow the earliest possible return to full activity.
  • During the first 6-8 weeks after surgery, the shoulder is usually immobilized with a sling.

  • During this time, the therapist will move the shoulder through passive range of motion exercises to prevent stiffness. This will allow the patient to maintain functional motion in the shoulder while protecting the soft tissue repair.

  • After the soft tissues are adequately healed (about 6-8 weeks) an active range of motion exercise program can begin.

  • Soon after adequate active range of motion is achieved, a strengthening program begins, concentrating on the rotator cuff muscles and those that stabilize the scapula.

  • Once appropriate levels of motion and strength are reached, a maintenance program of shoulder exercises, as part of a whole-body fitness regimen, is recommended. The patient who commits to a lifetime physical therapy program will maximize the success of the surgical procedure.

  • Return to full activity is highly variable among patients. Generally, complete recovery takes 4-6 months.

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