How long is rehab after shoulder surgery?

Answered by James Kissner

Recovering from shoulder surgery can be a lengthy process, with the full rehabilitation period lasting anywhere from three to six months. However, it’s important to note that the duration can vary depending on the type of surgery performed and individual factors such as age, overall health, and adherence to rehabilitation protocols.

1. Immediate Post-Operative Period (0-2 weeks):
– During this time, you will likely experience pain, swelling, and limited mobility in your shoulder.
– You will be instructed to wear a sling or immobilizer to protect the surgical site and promote healing.
– Physical therapy may begin early on, focusing on gentle range of motion exercises and pain management techniques.

2. Early Rehabilitation Phase (2-6 weeks):
– As the pain and swelling subside, you will gradually increase the range of motion exercises.
– Strengthening exercises for the surrounding muscles may be introduced.
– Physical therapy sessions may occur a few times per week, with the goal of restoring basic function and mobility.

3. Intermediate Rehabilitation Phase (6-12 weeks):
– During this phase, you will progressively increase the intensity and complexity of your exercise routine.
– Strengthening exercises will become more challenging, targeting the specific muscles involved in shoulder stability and movement.
– Functional activities such as reaching, lifting, and carrying may be incorporated into your rehabilitation program.
– Physical therapy sessions may be reduced to once or twice a week, with more emphasis on home exercises.

4. Advanced Rehabilitation Phase (3-6 months):
– By this stage, you should have regained a significant amount of strength and range of motion.
– Your physical therapist will focus on further improving your shoulder stability and endurance.
– Sports-specific exercises or activities related to your daily routine or occupation may be included.
– Physical therapy sessions may be reduced to once a week or discontinued, with an emphasis on maintaining progress through a home exercise program.

It’s important to note that these timeframes are approximate and can vary from person to person. Your surgeon and physical therapist will provide specific guidelines and closely monitor your progress throughout the rehabilitation process.

In my personal experience, I underwent shoulder surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff. The initial recovery period was challenging, with significant pain and limited range of motion. However, with the help of a dedicated physical therapist and consistent adherence to the rehabilitation program, I gradually regained strength and function in my shoulder. It took me around five months to fully recover and return to my normal activities. Patience, commitment, and following the guidance of healthcare professionals were key to my successful rehabilitation journey.