With most shoulder injuries, a physical therapist will be involved in the rehabilitation phase of your treatment. If surgery is required, the physical therapist will work with you before and after surgery to guide you through a program designed to increase your strength and regain your range of motion.
Although it’s natural to react to shoulder pain by not moving your shoulder, this can, unfortunately, lead to complete loss of shoulder mobility. Your rehabilitation program will help decrease pain and swelling and prevent the development of ongoing, or chronic, shoulder problems. Along with exercise, massage, ultrasound and electrical stimulation can also be used to help control pain and swelling.
At first, your rehabilitation exercises may involve active range of motion or controlled movements of your shoulder joint without resistance. Water exercises, such as arm circles or shoulder rolls, are sometimes used if other exercises are too painful.
Some motion exercises are designed to improve your awareness of the position, location, orientation and movement of your shoulder. This ability is referred to as proprioception. Proprioception training is very important because it teaches your body to control the position of your injured shoulder.
Once you’re pain-free, other exercises may be added, such as agility and endurance building activities. The goal here is to increase your strength and range of motion as your ligaments recover. The length of time you can expect to spend recovering depends upon the extent of the injury and the amount of surgery, if any, that was performed. Rehabilitation may take from weeks to months depending on the condition.