The aim of a shoulder replacement surgery is to restore function to an impaired shoulder. The surgery majorly involves improving the shoulder’s motion and stability by balancing the soft tissues around the joint and releasing adhesions and contractures. After shoulder replacement procedure, with a good rehabilitation plan many patients are able to have extremely functional shoulders and are able to return to the activities of daily living and low impact sports without pain.
A sling will need to be used for 4 to 6 weeks after the surgery. Physical therapy with passive movement exercises will starts as soon as the healing is complete. These simple exercises are important for keeping the shoulder loose, and these set the foundation for performing more advanced exercises. After shoulder replacement surgery the shoulder will ideally require two years of rehabilitative exercises to reach maximal function. The physical therapy routine should be followed in the frequency and intensity prescribed by the doctor or therapist. The top factors that determine the prescribed routines will depend on the surgery type, patient age, patient gender, and injury intensity.
The top priority following the surgery during the first week is maintaining the gains in motion achieved by the surgery. The goal of the rehabilitation program will be to familiarize the patient on successfully rehabilitating the shoulder. The best plan will be once when there is early gaining of excellent range of motion and the slow but progressive addition of strength coordination and endurance. Six weeks after surgery the patient should regain full shoulder movement and full function will be gained in 3 to 4 months.
Being physically active is an important part of recovery. During the first few weeks the physical therapist can help to perform specific exercises to strengthen your arm and shoulder. Alternatively, the doctor could also give the patient a list of exercises that can be done to keep the muscles strong without damaging the replaced shoulder. These rehabilitative exercises are necessary to prevent the elbow and shoulder from getting stiff. Though difficult to perform in the beginning, it will get easier as days progresses.
The important factor is that the rehabilitation program after shoulder replacement surgery should be tailored for the individual based on their ability to progress and respond to treatment. Advancing through the rehabilitation process should involve an accurate assessment of joint function, strength, mobility and progressive overload based on the patient’s response to the plan.
Exercises for up to three weeks after the surgery will involve simple movements like hand gripping, small range of motion exercises, and specific shoulder mobilization moves. As the strength and mobility returns the exercises will increase in intensity and movement. By week five or six the rehabilitation will have progressed to rotator cuff strengthening with a 90-degree turn and even sport specific workouts. Recovering from shoulder replacement surgery could depend upon many factors, including the type of surgical procedure, absence or presence of complications and adherence to aftercare instructions of the doctor. But consistency in performing rehabilitation and physical therapy exercises can go a long way in the total recovery.
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