Shoulder surgery and rehabilitation


Shoulder surgery and rehabilitation

Your shoulder is a complex joint made up of the arm bone (the humerus), the collarbone (the clavicle) and the shoulder blade (the scapula). These connect to the glenoid, which is a ball-like shaped object that then connects with the socket of the scapula at the upper end of the humerus. The rotator cuff then comprises four muscles and their tendons – the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis, with each attaching to the scapula (shoulderblade) and the humerus (the upper arm bone). These muscles stabilize the shoulder joint, rotate the shoulder and come together to help lift your arm above your head.

When you injure your shoulder it is likely that one of these bones will be injured or that there will be damage to the surrounding ligaments or rotator cuff.

What are the most common rotator cuff injuries?

Due to the nature of the Rotator Cuff, location to other muscles, range of movements it is used in and connection to other sensitive areas in the shoulder, there are many different rotator cuff injuries:

  • Rotator Cuff Tears; muscle or tendon tears of varying grades
  • Rotator Cuff Tendinitis
  • Rotator Cuff Tendinopathy due to chronic irritation
  • “Impingement syndrome”

What is a shoulder reconstruction?

Most shoulder injuries such as dislocations and fractures can be treated without surgery and with a solid dose of physiotherapy, but some injuries are a little more complex and require the surgeon’s scalpel to sort out once and for all.

A shoulder reconstruction involves repairing the torn or stretched ligaments so that they are able to hold your shoulder joint in place properly. During shoulder reconstruction surgery the torn ligaments will be stitched back to the shoulder socket with special anchors and your over stretched ligaments will be tightened back to new.

Shoulder reconstruction can usually be performed by keyhole microsurgery, but some patients may need an open surgical procedure which involves a larger incision over the shoulder to perform the repair.

It’s normal to have some pain and discomfort after shoulder surgery but your pain shouldn’t be that bad you are unable to cough, breathe deeply and do your exercises without hitting the roof.

How does physiotherapy help recovery from a shoulder reconstruction?

Physio plays a critical role after surgery; it will affect how quickly you get back to your work, sport and the things you love. Regular exercises and mobilisation is needed to restore motion and flexibility to your affected shoulder. Your arm is probably going to be in a sling for at least 4-6 weeks to stop your shoulder dislocating again while it is recovering and it’ll also stop you from getting your arm in a painful position.

Strengthening your rotator cuff muscles is the best defence against further shoulder dislocation, subluxation, and instability. Your physio will design a program with exercises that build up the muscles around the shoulder and work with you to utilise exercises that will aim to fix problems such as stiffness and weakness and correct any other underlying causes. Shoulder injuries are also among the most common to re-injure so your musculoskeletal physiotherapist is critical for helping alleviate your current pain and movement woes while also helping to avoid further injury down the track.

If you’ve got questions, Sports physios are experts in the retraining of movements and activities related to sport, work and the day to day activities that were aggravating your shoulder so that you can get back to what you were doing before the pain. If you’ve got a surgery coming up, or if you’ve already had shoulder surgery get in touch with us, don’t wait until the pain becomes severe or chronic, give Lane Cove Physio a call on (02) 9428 5772 or send us an email at