Shoulder Rehabilitation

How Can a Physical Therapist Help Rehab Shoulder Pain?
Your physical therapist will work with you to design a specific treatment program that will speed your recovery, including exercises and treatments that you can do at home. Physical therapy will help you return to your normal lifestyle and activities. The time it takes to heal the condition varies, but results can often be achieved in 2 to 8 weeks, when a proper stretching and strengthening program is implemented.During the first 24 to 48 hours following your diagnosis, your physical therapist may advise you to:

  • Rest the area by avoiding lifting or reaching overhead, or any activity that causes pain.
  • Apply ice packs to the area for 15 to 20 minutes every 2 hours.
  • Consult with a physician for further services, such as medication or diagnostic tests.

Your physical therapist will work with you to:

Reduce Pain and Swelling. If repetitive activities have caused the shoulder bursitis, your physical therapist will help you understand how to avoid or modify the activities to allow healing to begin. Your physical therapist may use different types of treatments and technologies to control and reduce your pain and swelling, including ice, heat, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, taping, specific exercises, and hands-on therapy, such as specialized massage.

Improve Motion. Your physical therapist will choose specific activities and treatments to help restore normal movement in the shoulder and arm. These might begin with “passive” motions that the physical therapist performs for you to gently move your shoulder joint, and progress to active exercises and stretches that you do yourself.

Improve Flexibility. Your physical therapist will determine if any shoulder, arm, chest, or neck muscles are tight, start helping you to stretch them, and teaching you how to stretch them.

Improve posture. If posture problems are found to be related to your condition, your physical therapist will work with you to help improve your posture to help alleviate your pain, and prevent future recurrence.

Improve Strength. Shoulder bursitis is often related to weak, injured, or uncoordinated shoulder muscles. Certain exercises will aid healing at each stage of recovery; your physical therapist will choose and teach you the correct exercises and equipment to use to steadily restore your strength and agility. These may include using cuff weights, stretch bands, and weight lifting equipment.

Improve Endurance. Regaining your muscular endurance in the shoulder is important after an injury. Your physical therapist will teach you exercises to improve your muscular endurance, so you can return to your normal activities. Cardio-exercise equipment may be used, such as upper-body ergometers, treadmills, or stationary bicycles.

Learn a Home Program. Your physical therapist will teach you strengthening and stretching exercises to perform at home. These exercises will be specific for your needs; if you do them as prescribed by your physical therapist, you can speed your recovery.

Return to Activities. Your physical therapist will discuss your activity goals with you and use them to set your work, sport, and home-life recovery goals. Your treatment program will help you reach your goals in the safest, fastest, and most effective way possible. Your physical therapist will teach you exercises, work retraining activities, and sport-specific techniques and drills to help you achieve your goals.

Speed Recovery Time. Your physical therapist is trained and experienced in choosing the best treatments and exercises to help you safely heal, return to your normal lifestyle, and reach your goals faster than you are likely to do on your own.

If Surgery Is Necessary

Surgery is not commonly required for shoulder bursitis. But if surgery is needed, you will follow a recovery program over several weeks, guided by your physical therapist. Your physical therapist will help you minimize pain, regain motion and strength, and return to normal activities in the safest and speediest manner possible.

Can Shoulder Injuries be Prevented?

Your physical therapist can recommend a home-exercise program to strengthen and stretch the muscles around your shoulder, arm, chest, and neck to help prevent future injury. These may include strength and flexibility exercises for the shoulder, arm, chest, neck, and core muscles.

To help prevent a recurrence of the injury, your physical therapist may advise you to:

  • Follow a consistent flexibility and strengthening exercise program, especially for the shoulder muscles, to maintain good physical conditioning, even in a sport’s off-season or after you retire from sports.
  • Always warm up before starting a sport or heavy physical activity.
  • Learn and maintain good posture.
  • Gradually increase any demanding activity, rather than suddenly increasing the activity amount or intensity. This includes household activities, office work, or athletics.
  • Learn and maintain correct posture.