Did you know that shoulder pain accounts for 5% of all general musculoskeletal consultations? The rotator cuff — or group of muscles and tendons in the shoulder — can tear or become inflamed. Surgery can help reduce rotator cuff pain if other treatments haven’t shown significant results. But shoulder pain doesn’t always end with surgery. Rotator cuff surgery can lead to stiffness, swelling and chronic pain. Physical therapy can be a crucial step in treating post-surgical pain and regaining shoulder mobility.
4 ways physical therapists can help alleviate chronic pain after rotator cuff surgery
Most surgeons recommend physical therapy before and after surgery to help fast-track recovery time. According to each patient’s needs, physical therapists can use beneficial techniques. If you’ve had rotator cuff surgery and are still experiencing inflammation or pain, physical therapy can help. After surgery, physical therapy can:
- Increase mobility — A lack of blood flow to the rotator cuff can lead to chronic pain after surgery. Without routine movement, the shoulder can become stiff and painful. Physical therapists can slowly reintroduce the shoulder to its normal range of motion. Exercises including passive range-of-motion and active range-of-motion exercises can help ease stiffness and pain. Physical therapists can also help patients establish goals to increase mobility during each session.
- Maintain results — Chronic pain may not go away with in-office physical therapy alone. Continuing exercises at home can significantly help reduce recovery time and pain. According to a study, hospital patients were 2.9 times more likely to be readmitted if they didn’t follow physical therapy instructions at home. Physical therapists can recommend at-home exercises that help patients maintain physical therapy routines and decrease their chronic pain.
- Increase strength — The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles. Physical therapy can strengthen those muscles by increasing the intensity of exercises over time. Improving muscular strength can help stabilize the shoulder joint and reduce pain. Stronger rotator cuff muscles can also help reduce the risk of further injury and more pain.
- Reduce inflammation — Physical therapists can also use instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) to help relieve post-surgery pain. IASTM can increase blood flow to the rotator cuff and relieve inflammation. One example of IASTM is the Graston Technique®. Physical therapists use instruments to break down scar tissue and promote healing when performing this technique. Using this and other forms of IASTM around the rotator cuff can help relieve chronic pain and shorten recovery time after surgery.
Arrow PTR can address your chronic pain after rotator cuff surgery
Are you concerned about your chronic pain after surgery? Our Arrow Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation specialists work closely with patients’ surgeons to customize post-surgical treatment plans. In addition, our one-on-one sessions aim to provide exceptional post-surgical rehabilitation. Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial free screening.