Shoulder Rehabilitation

Patients come to our clinic with many different types of shoulder conditions. Your treating Doctor will assess your shoulder and advise on a rehabilitation plan to assist your recovery. An individual rehabilitation plan is developed for every patient. Some patients require surgery, others are managed conservatively.

Patients who Require Surgery: Your surgeon will advise on a plan specific to your surgery. Often the rehabilitation plan will take up to 12 months to complete.

Patients who Do Not Require Surgery: Many shoulder problems do not require surgery and can be managed well with a rehabilitation program.

For both groups of patients the rehabilitation goal is the same, to achieve the best recovery possible. Every patient’s situation is different and consideration is given to your lifestyle in determining your specific rehabilitation plan. Our rehabilitation plans focus on the physical changes required to make to your shoulder function better. Your shoulders strength, movement and control will often need to improve.

It is important to understand that for you to obtain the best recovery possible that you need to follow your rehabilitation plan closely. The following guidelines provide a general overview of what you need to do.


Often you will be asked to protect your shoulder whilst it is recovering by avoiding, where possible:

  • repetitive activities, eg, sustained manual tasks such as, housework, gardening, renovation, overhead sports and keyboard use
  • lifting more than a few kilograms
  • overhead activity
  • reaching behind your body
  • any activity that aggravates your shoulder pain

The time these restrictions apply for depends on your individual situation. Often they will apply for 3 months. These restrictions provide the rest that your shoulder requires to allow the inflammation in your shoulder to reduce. As well, where possible, this will allow scar tissue to form at the area of injury and help with healing.

If you have had surgery, post operatively, your surgeon will provide a plan and timeframe with regard to specific use and lifting restrictions.

Patience/Commitment/Exercise Plan

After shoulder surgery, it often takes 3 to 6 months to obtain reasonable use and comfort.  Full recovery may take up to 12 months.

For those patients managed without surgery, often the rehabilitation plan takes three to six months to complete.

Commonly, you will be asked to undertake a specific exercise plan. When a shoulder has a problem with pain, weakness, stiffness or instability, the muscles around the shoulder can change.  These changes can affect your shoulders strength, flexibility and, specifically, the internal control of the shoulder. These changes need to be addressed with a specific exercise program.

Usually this program is home based, that where possible needs to be performed 3 to 4 times a day, often for many months. This requires commitment on your part in order to obtain the best possible outcome.

Exercise therapy is considered to be one of the most reliable types of treatment for shoulder problems.  There is quality research available that indicates that specific strengthening and flexibility exercises for the shoulder will help to reduce shoulder pain and improve function.

Be Aware of your Posture

Poor spinal and shoulder posture can aggravate your shoulder condition.

Sit and stand tall, with your shoulder tips slightly back.

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