Physical Therapy After Rotator Cuff And Shoulder Surgery: What To Expect

A torn rotator cuff means that you have ripped one or more of the four "cuff" tendons in your shoulder. Not only is this condition painful, but in extreme cases it also means that you cannot move, lift or rotate your arm in the shoulder socket. While it is a very common occurrence among athletes and body builders, it can occur in anyone who experiences repeat motion of the shoulder, a severe car accident or an impact fall where the person lands right on the shoulder joint.

If you have already had rotator cuff and shoulder surgery, you will need physical therapy next. Here is what to expect.

Meet with Your Assigned Physical Therapist

The initial meeting with your assigned physical therapist is a long one, but it is scheduled like this for a good reason. Your new therapist will assess what you can currently do, your current levels of pain, and your tolerance for small, slow and controlled movements.

After this initial assessment, more appointments are scheduled based on the treatment plan developed by your physical therapist. You may even receive some instruction on a couple of small and slow-moving exercises to do at home daily until you begin to get a little range of motion back into your shoulder.

Your therapist, like one from Physical Therapy Center PC, may also instruct you to refrain from anything strenuous or from lifting anything until the stitches in your shoulder have been removed or until your doctor says it is okay to begin moving your arm a little more.

Return for Your Regularly Scheduled Appointments

At each of your successive appointments, the therapist will help you perform a series of exercises targeted at your shoulder and upper back. The exercises are never rushed and you should never push beyond your comfort level unless your therapist and your doctor both agree it is safe for your healing shoulder to do so.

As you attend these appointments and your shoulder gets stronger and feels less pain, your therapist will send home new exercises for you to work on so you can increase (and possibly regain) some of the flexibility in the rotator cuff and ball joint of your shoulder.

Reducing Your Appointments and Discontinuing Sessions

Gradually, the number of weekly physical therapy sessions you have will be reduced in conjunction with a healed shoulder, greater strength, better range of motion through the affected shoulder and finally no pain or strain against movement. Your physical therapist will alter your sessions, treatment plan and frequency as you go along. When it looks as though you have achieved the maximum benefit from your therapy and there may not be any further gains from more sessions, the sessions will be discontinued or set up on an "as needed" basis.