Shoulder Rehabilitation – When You Need It & How It Improves Quality of Life

September 13, 2022

Dr. Nithin Patel
Consultant Orthopaedic
MBBS, D.Ortho, DNB Ortho, Fellowship in Shoulder & Sports Medicine

Are you experiencing recurrent pain in your upper hand that is restricting your hand and arm movements? Is the pain in your shoulder preventing you from sleeping on the side of the aching hand? Is the shoulder ache affecting your quality of life or preventing you from playing your favourite sports adversely? If you answered positively, it might be due to a rotator cuff tear, frozen shoulder, arthritis, or some shoulder injuries. The shoulder is an inevitable part of our body which has the liberty to move in many directions yet provides incredible strength and stability to various arm movements. So, when our shoulder suffers from an injury, we experience pain and discomfort that affect our routine and quality of life adversely. Fortunately, you have physiotherapy and shoulder rehabilitation facilities to heal your ailing shoulder.

Nowadays, lots of people are interested in playing a variety of sports, such as badminton, cricket, volleyball, golf, and tennis. Having very good shoulder strength is crucial for playing these sports efficiently and for preventing injuries. And, shoulder rehabilitation can help improve your shoulder strength and make it fit to play your favourite sports efficiently. Expert physiotherapists design a customised treatment tailored to your specific shoulder condition to improve your shoulder strength and health. It also focuses on preventing the risk of further shoulder complications and pain reoccurrences. Let’s have a look at when you need shoulder rehabilitation and how it helps you.

Common Shoulder Injuries and Conditions that Call for Shoulder Rehabilitation:

Here are some prominent shoulder injuries and other conditions that call for shoulder healing and rehabilitation.

  • Rotator cuff tendinitis
  • Impingement of rotator cuff
  • Rotator cuff tear
  • Bicipital tendinitis
  • Frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis)
  • Arthritis
  • At times, wrist pain and elbow pain
  • Sports injuries
  • Shoulder arthroscopy
  • Shoulder replacement

Shoulder-Related Sports Injuries

As we have seen earlier, many individuals are interested in playing sports. So, sports injuries affecting the shoulders are common among these people. Here are some common shoulder-affecting sports injuries.

  1. Shoulder Dislocations
  2. Sprains
  3. Strains
  4. Acromioclavicular Joint Injuries
  5. Impingement Syndrome
  6. Rotator Cuff Tears
  7. SLAP (Superior Labral Antero-Posterior) Lesions
  8. Biceps Injuries
  9. Labral Tears
  • Rugby Shoulder
  • Swimmer’s Shoulder
  • Thrower’s Shoulder
  • Shoulder Fractures
  • Bone Spurs or Bursitis
  • Shoulder Arthritis due to overuse of shoulders

Evaluation – A Crucial Step Before Shoulder Rehabilitation

Before resorting to any exercises for shoulder rehabilitation, a complete and accurate evaluation of your shoulder’s health and condition by a certified shoulder specialist or orthopaedic is essential. Expert shoulder specialist carries out a comprehensive examination of the ailing shoulder and develop a personalized shoulder rehabilitation program. The shoulder specialist considers the motion and strength of the aching shoulder, the exact cause of the poor shoulder health, and other necessary factors and develops a physiotherapy treatment focusing on your specific daily functional needs, such as sports and occupational requirements.

At times, people complain of wrist pain and elbow pain, and, despite a week-long physiotherapy treatment for tennis elbow, they fail to get relief. Skilled health experts, such as shoulder specialists or orthopaedics at Specialist Hospital, perform a thorough evaluation, wherein they examine the shoulder and check whether the shoulders are weak. In such circumstances, where the patient has a weak shoulder or rotator cuff tendinitis, the upper link decompensates resulting in tennis elbow or wrist pain.

When orthopaedics or shoulder specialists examine the affected shoulder, they observe the posture and shoulder position during arm and hand movements, its range of motion, the functional capacity of the affected muscle groups, reflexes, and the strength of the key muscles. They may use a goniometer, a basic joint measurement tool. The shoulder specialists may also go for manual muscle testing to detect weak muscles and measure the strength of certain muscles. They also ask you to perform certain activities involving arm and hand movements, such as pulling, pushing, buttoning shirts, and tying shoes to get an idea of how the ailing shoulder affects your daily life and design shoulder rehab treatment accordingly.

Symptoms Indicating the Need for Shoulder Rehabilitation:

  • Weak or Aching Shoulder
  • Elbow pain or Tennis elbow symptoms
  • Tendinitis along the wrist
  • Shoulder pain that prevents you from sleeping on the ailing shoulder’s side
  • Muscle weakness
  • Restricted movements of your arm.
  • Poor posture
  • Upper back pain
  • Cracking or grating sounds on the movement of your arm

 Demographic Age Groups Needing Shoulder Rehabilitation

Individuals from all age groups may suffer from these symptoms. When youngsters experience these symptoms, they are most often due to workout-related mishaps or sports injuries or other physical injuries or conditions. When middle-aged or elderly people present with these symptoms, it’s usually due to age-related degeneration, diabetes, and thyroid conditions.

It’s important to note that, when you have a weak shoulder and you do a heavy workout or play a badminton match, it is most likely to trigger your wrist and shoulder pain.

Shoulder Rehabilitation Program:

Shoulder rehabilitation focuses on minimizing the initial pain and lets the tissues heal before they regain muscle strength, range of motion, and turn functional. It focuses on a personalized program comprising physiotherapy exercises tailored to your specific shoulder healing needs. Its key stages include:

  1. Developing and maintaining good posture and flexibility: It includes learning and maintaining good posture while doing all activities. Physiotherapists teach the patient how to avoid repeated impingement positioning like slumping, how to sit and stand properly, and correct body mechanics while working or pursuing hobbies. Developing and maintaining good posture helps prevent various painful joint issues later in life.
  2. Scapular stabilizing exercises
  3. Strengthening the rotator cuff and other key muscles of the shoulder.
  4. Training the patient to perform the necessary exercises at home.

 Other stages of shoulder rehabilitation include:

  • Stretching tight muscles and joint structures
  • Mobilizing the joints
  • General shoulder conditioning for endurance: Often a standing arm bike is involved and patients use the machine for a warm-up and endurance treatment programs.

Types of Physio Exercises for Shoulder Rehabilitation:

Physiotherapists train shoulder rehab patients to perform painless exercises that help improve their shoulder strength, the flexibility of muscle and joint, range of motion, and rotator cuff strength. Some common shoulder rehabilitation exercises include:

  1. Isometric Shoulder Exercises: External rotation, internal rotation, adduction, abduction, flexion, and extension
  2. Shoulder Mobility Exercises: Pendulum exercises, Pole mobility exercises, and stretching the top of the shoulder joint
  3. Shoulder Stability Exercises: Wobble board exercises, Swiss ball shoulder exercises, and Horizontal abduction program
  4. Dynamic Shoulder Exercises
  5. Functional Shoulder Exercises

Shoulder Exercises are Easy-To-Do:Although the term shoulder rehabilitation program might sound pretty long and complicated, the exercises involved in this rehab plan are quite easy. Let’s have a look at a few exercises in detail so that you will get an idea of how easy they are to perform.

  1. External Rotation (ER):
  2. First, stand near a wall such that your affected shoulder’s hand is parallel to the wall, and the wall lies on the side of your shoulder. For instance, if your right shoulder is affected, you stand such that the wall lies on your right side and your right hand is parallel to the wall.
  3. Bend your elbow making a 90-degree angle. Place the back of your wrist against the wall.
  4. By keeping your wrist neutral, apply force externally such that your palm is moving away from you. Begin with 20% force and, later, increase it up to 80%. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds and relax.
  5. Do 10 repetitions
  6. Flexion: Stand facing the wall, make a fist, and place the punch of your fist on the wall. Keeping your wrist neutral, apply force to the wall. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds and relax. Do 10 repetitions.
  7. Extension: Face your back to the wall, place your elbow and the back of your upper arm on the wall, and apply force through your elbow. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds and relax. Repeat it 10 times.

A customised shoulder rehab helps stabilize the scapula, improves the muscle strength of the rotator cuff, improves the range of motion of your arm, and relieves you of discomforting pain. Initially, you need to perform physio exercises under the guidance of the physiotherapists for a week or so, as per the need, and then at home for a month to enjoy the complete healing of your shoulder. You may also need them for your general shoulder and scapula complaints. For instance, if you experience pain in the scapula while changing the gear of your car while driving, you may need shoulder strengthening and scapula strengthening exercises to relieve the pain.

The duration of the shoulder rehabilitation program varies from patient to patient. Certain shoulder conditions and injuries may need one to a few weeks of physiotherapy sessions under direct training from a physiotherapist and, later, you can practice the exercises at home. For serious shoulder surgeries having healing issues or other complications, rehabilitation may extend to a month or longer. For instance, if a patient suffers from a massive rotator cuff tear and surgery for it, shoulder rehabilitation may last for three to four months for complete healing. The complete rehabilitation of the shoulder includes minimal or no pain, increased shoulder strength, a fully restored range of motion, and the ability to perform previous physical activities smoothly.

So, if you are recuperating from shoulder surgery or have a weak or injured shoulder restricting your usual arm and hand movements, a shoulder rehabilitation program involving physiotherapy may help. Reach out to us at or call for emergency on 080 4212 2222. Our certified physiotherapists and healthcare experts will be pleased to attend to your complaints and provide you with customised shoulder rehabilitation. You will be glad to experience improved shoulder strength, range of motion, relief from pain, and a fully healed shoulder soon. Improve your shoulder health and function and bounce back to your routine life smoothly with our specialized shoulder rehabilitation program.

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