A surgical operation is oftentimes viewed as the last line of treatment for correcting a shoulder condition, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a perfect stand-alone option. You need to put in the work to help ensure your shoulder benefits from the surgery, and that doesn’t just involve therapeutic exercises once the surgery is over. Studies have shown that patients who want to begin their therapy regimen before surgery tend to experience better outcomes as they progress through their post-op rehab. Below, we explain why that’s the case and how we’ll start you on a prehab routine for your shoulder.
Prehabbing Before Shoulder Surgery
If you’ve reached the point that you’ve decided to undergo shoulder surgery, it’s clear that your shoulder is currently in a weakened state. Given the nature of the joint and the stability that is needed to help it perform optimally, the biggest threat to its health leading up to surgery is overuse and stress. However, it is unlikely that you’re going to be able to stop using your shoulder in the days leading up to surgery, and quite frankly, stopping movement in the joint for an extended period can actually do more harm than good in the form of tissue atrophy.
Instead of preventing movement to limit stress, your physical therapist will guide you through some exercises to help strengthen the soft tissues and areas that work to stabilize the joint. By reinforcing these structures, they will be better able to handle pressure and stress that is channeled through the area, and they can help to limit unstable joint movement that can contribute to pain. Strengthening key muscles and working to avoid continued damage to the shoulder area are key in helping speed up your recovery after surgery.
Another benefit of physical therapy is that you learn which movements are dangerous for your shoulder and which movements won’t put additional stress on your joints. Many people assume that their shoulders are only at risk for further damage if they are undertaking a significantly physical task, like throwing a baseball or lifting a heavy box. Depending on the nature of your injury, an action as innocuous as lifting your arm over your head can be enough to further damage injured tissue. By working with a physical therapist who understands muscle structure and how the tissues of the shoulder interconnect with one another, you can learn safe movement strategies and help protect and strengthen the area in the days and weeks leading up to surgery.
Finally, prehab therapy can help a patient come to grips with the expectations after surgery. Rehab isn’t going to be easy, so if you work with a physical therapist beforehand and understand the work you need to put in before and after your operation, you’ll have a healthy mindset, and that can go a long way in helping you follow through with your rehab plan. Also, if you’re already committed to a prehab routine for your shoulder, it will be easier to stay in that routine once surgery is complete. Patients are more likely to follow through with their entire post-op rehab plan if they began a prehab routine compared to those who skip prehab for their shoulder.
So if you are considering getting surgery on your shoulder, don’t wait until the operation is complete to sync up with a physical therapist and start improving your shoulder. Prehabbing can make a big difference in your final outcome, so ensure you make the fullest recovery possible by committing to a prehab plan today with the help of a physical therapist who specializes in shoulder care. For information or assistance about your shoulder injury, reach out to OrthoRehab Specialists today.