Phase 1: First 3 weeks

  • Wound care as outlined on the Shoulder Arthroscopy Rehabilitation page
  • If the operation has been performed through a larger incision this will have a dissolving stitch.
  • You will wake up with a sling on. It is important that this is worn at all times.
  • You may remove the sling for washing but keep your hand against your stomach
  • Keep moving your hand to keep your wrist from becoming stiff
  • Take your hand out of the sling and straighten the elbow regularly to prevent the elbow from becoming stiff. When doing this start with the palm on the stomach then straighten the elbow so that the palm rests on the front of the thigh.

Phase 2: 3-6 weeks

  • You will be seen in the clinic at 3 weeks
  • At 3 weeks you can leave the sling off during the day (within the limits below)
  • Continue to wear the sling at night
  • Start working on forward elevation (lift the arm to the front)
  • Use the good arm to raise the operated arm above head height as far as comfort allows. Gently lower the arm again. Repeat 10 times 3 times a day. The aim of this is to keep the shoulder from getting too stiff, not to acheive great amounts of motion.
  • Active external rotation to neutral (handshake position) *NO Further than this until 6 weeks*
  • Aim: Forward elevation to horizontal by 6 weeks

Phase 3: 6-12 weeks

  • You can remove the sling at night at 6 weeks
  • Physiotherapy should start at this stage
  • Start working on external rotation beyond neutral
  • This exercise is usually easier sitting up. Use the good arm and a stick to push the operated hand away from the body. Repeat 10 times.
  • Aim: External rotation 50% other side by 12 weeks
  • Start exercises for range of motion as described on the Physio instruction pages 1 & 2
  • Start rotator cuff strengthening exercises as described on Physio instruction pages 3 & 4

Phase 4: 12-16 weeks

  • You will be seen in the clinic at 12 weeks
  • Continue working on forward flexion, abduction an external rotation
  • Start training for sport e.g. overarm throwing
  • If you have regained most of your motion you will be discharged at this stage

Phase 5: 16+ weeks

  • You may be seen in the clinic at 16 weeks
  • If you have higher demands of the shoulder (i.e. specific sports demands (throwing, swimming etc)) you will be started on sports specific training.
  • Possible return to contact sports at 6 months

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