Rehabilitation For Shoulder Fracture

Although the methods used to treat shoulder fractures vary, rehabilitation is always necessary after the initial treatment, to restore full movement and mobility and help the patient return to all usual activities. After the shoulder has healed from the initial treatment for the fracture, a physical therapy regimen is implemented to strengthen muscles and increase mobility. Without proper rehabilitation, complications such as chronic pain, inflammation and weakness, may cause difficulty moving the arm and shoulder and performing regular tasks.

Nonsurgical Rehabilitation for Shoulder Fracture

A fractured shoulder requires a period of immobilization with a sling or shoulder immobilizer for about 4 to 6 weeks. If the injury was not severe, the healing process occurs fairly rapidly and function may be regained at about 4 weeks after the initial injury. Shoulder exercises are usually necessary and focus on decreasing stiffness, improving range of motion, and helping the patient regain muscle strength. The physical therapist may also make suggestions and create exercises for improving posture and shoulder alignment as well advise patients on how to perform activities and exercises without endangering the injured area.

Rehabilitation After Shoulder Fracture Surgery

After surgery, the shoulder is susceptible to reinjury, so it is very important to closely follow rehabilitation guidelines to ensure proper healing and regain full range of motion to the shoulder. Physical therapy is an essential part of rehabilitation after shoulder fracture surgery, to help restore full function to the shoulder.

Physical therapy often begins shortly after surgery to help restore strength and movement and allow patients to gradually resume their regular activities. Initial physical therapy treatments may include ice, electrical stimulation and massage, to help control pain and swelling. As the healing begins, exercises may be used to increase movement and mobility. Physical therapy exercises focus on improving the strength and control of shoulder muscles and the muscles around the shoulder blade. Treatment may include:

  • Muscle strengthening exercises
  • Shoulder girdle stabilization exercises
  • Gradual weight-bearing activities
  • Range of motion exercises

A rehabilitation program after shoulder fracture surgery may be directly linked to the severity of the initial injury and the type of repair that was performed. Severe injuries that require more complex surgery may have a longer period of rehabilitation than those that require less invasive surgery. Most patients will follow a physical therapy routine and receive treatment for about 4 months following surgery. At that time, most patients can return to all regular physical activity.

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