Shoulder Surgery – What to Expect from Physio?

Uncategorized, / By Winsen Citra

Shoulder surgery can vary greatly. Your surgeon may be repairing your labrum, reattaching a ligament, repairing a torn tendon, and the list goes on. All these surgeries will have various post-surgical plan and restrictions. One thing that is usually constant is the need to see your physiotherapist to aid in your recovery. So I am here to explain the standard rehabilitation steps after a shoulder surgery. 


Post-surgical instructions

This is usually dictated by your surgeon and we, physiotherapists, will follow these to a T. This is because your surgeon is the one who knows exactly what went on during your shoulder surgery and how to best allow your shoulder to recover. Depending on the type of surgery and even the surgical techniques used, the instructions may vary a lot. This can range from no restrictions at all to no overhead movement and gentle stretching. Sometimes they can be a more extensive plan that limits activity until certain milestones are reached.

Due to the limitations that may be imposed, you may need to modify how you do certain things. For example, you may not be able to drive, or you may need to stick to wearing shirts because you may not be allowed to lift your hand above your head. Your physiotherapist will discuss with you about how you can cope with these limitations. 


Shoulder surgery rehabilitation

Regaining Range

Your range is one of the things most affected after shoulder surgery. You can expect your physios to focus on regaining your range before we get you to do any major strengthening. Not only is getting your range back more functional, but it also gives your shoulder some time to recover before we put it through higher loads. 

While your range is the priority at this stage, your physiotherapist will still work on the strength of the supporting muscles like your elbow, your grip strength and even your neck muscles. 



Strengthening begins once your surgical protocol allows for it. There are different types of strengthening that you will be asked to do. Typically strengthening is a mix of resistance and stability training. This can mean general strengthening you see performed at a gym, such as pushing and pulling tasks. 


Returning to sport after shoulder surgery

This is the last stage of the recovery process. Your physiotherapist will be doing work on dynamic tasks. These are such as throwing, boxing, dealing with unexpected forces like walking your dog or catching a ball. At Elevate Physiotherapy, your physiotherapist will work with you to make these exercises suit your end goal. If your end goal is to be able to drive pain free, then your exercise will be different from someone whose goals are to go back to playing tennis. This is where the patient specific treatment comes in. We will work to get you back to the level you desire and to the things that you enjoy doing.  Every shoulder is different, every surgery is different, and every therapy treatment plan for your shoulder is different.

Rehab post shoulder surgery can vary widely. I hope this has given you an insight as to what this may entail. As always, should you have any questions, talk to us, or fill in the form below. Do check out our instagram page!

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