Your dislocated shoulder is back in its place. Now it’s time to start your physical rehabilitation program.
Physical rehabilitation, which includes stretches and exercises, is a critical part of the recovery process, whether or not surgery is involved. Rehabilitation helps restore shoulder function and movement and aims to get you back to your normal activities.
Here’s what you can expect:
1. A tailored program. There are many factors your physician or physical therapist will consider when devising a rehabilitation program.
If you’ve had surgery, your rehabilitation program may be influenced by the type of surgical procedure and direction that your shoulder dislocated: anterior (toward the front of the body), posterior (toward the back of the body), or multidirectional (in many directions).
If your shoulder is being treated nonsurgically, your physician or physical therapist will likely consider factors such as your activity level, the number of dislocations you’ve had, and the direction of dislocation. 1 How your shoulder dislocated is another factor medical professionals may consider when determining a nonsurgical rehabilitation program.
2. A progressive program. Rehabilitation programs are generally organized into phases, with each phase lasting several weeks.
You may start out focusing on immobility and healing, which may require you to wear a sling for a period of time. Stretches and exercises are added and become more intense as your strength improves and you advance through your program. For example, you may start using light weights and plyometrics—forceful movements implemented for short periods of time. Eventually, you work toward sports participation.
Rehabilitating from a dislocated shoulder takes time, from several weeks to several months. So stay diligent and be patient as you work toward getting back to the activities you enjoy.
- Wilk KE, Macrina LC, Reinold MM. Non-Operative Rehabilitation for Traumatic and Atraumatic Glenohumeral Instability. North American Journal of Sports Physical Therapy : NAJSPT. 2006;1(1):16-31.