How painful is physical therapy after rotator cuff surgery?

Like more than 5.7 million other Americans, you tore a rotator cuff. In your case, the injury was so severe that you needed surgery to treat it. So, you found a good surgeon and went under the knife. But have you given much thought to what comes after your surgery?

Physical therapy is a commonly used type of post-surgical rehab. However, some people may be wary of going to physical therapy because they’re wondering how painful physical therapy is after rotator cuff surgery. Physical therapists can answer this and other questions you have about your post-rotator cuff surgery physical therapy. 

How painful is physical therapy after rotator cuff surgery? Ideally, not very

It’s not uncommon for people to develop pain in their shoulders. From the rotator cuff to the shoulder blade, there are many areas of the shoulder that can become painful. That’s why it’s understandable that many people may ask how painful physical therapy is after rotator cuff surgery. After all, most people don’t want to deal with any more pain that is absolutely necessary. 

Fortunately, physical therapists can create individualized post-surgical rehab plans that are designed to reduce your pain. That doesn’t mean that you won’t feel any discomfort while working with your physical therapist. You likely will. Why? You’ll be working with them to restore normal range of motion (ROM) and function to your shoulder. The movements that are designed to help you reach that goal can be uncomfortable. 

However, nothing you do during your post-surgical rehab should cause you a significant amount of pain. If something does, you need to stop doing it and let your physical therapist know immediately. This is because excessive pain could be a sign that you have progressed too quickly through your recovery plan. It might also be a sign of a more serious post-surgical complication. 

How does physical therapy after rotator cuff surgery work to make your shoulder less painful?

Ideally, your post-surgical rehab will start before your surgery has even taken place. This is known as pre-surgical rehab, or pre-hab, and it’s intended to help prepare your body for surgery. It can also help reduce pre-surgical pain and help shorten your post-surgical recovery. 

However, it’s post-surgical rehab we’re talking about here. There are many physical therapy techniques that may be included in your post-surgical recovery plan, including: 

  • Therapeutic exercises intended to improve shoulder muscle strength and shoulder joint function. 
  • Joint mobilization where physical therapists use their hands to ease your repaired shoulder through its normal range of motion. This is intended to help stretch repaired soft tissue. 
  • Soft tissue mobilization that can help break up scar tissue that has formed in your healing shoulder. In turn, breaking up this scar tissue can help improve ROM and reduce pain. 

Find effective and gentle physical therapy after rotator cuff surgery at Back in Motion

Not eager to find out how painful physical therapy is after rotator cuff surgery? Our Back in Motion Physical Therapy team understands that completely. Yet we can offer you post-surgical rehab that’s designed to cause as little pain or discomfort as possible. For one thing, our physical therapists design post-surgical rehab plans to fit each patient’s needs. That means we do our best to help you recover at a pace that’s right for you, which can help you avoid added discomfort or pain during your recovery. 

Contact us today for more information about how we can help you recover from rotator cuff surgery or to schedule an initial appointment with one of our physical therapists. 

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