The exercises that follow provide a rehabilitation programme for an anterior dislocation shoulder injury. The information is intended as a guide and refers to those people who have dislocated their shoulder for the first time. The rate of progression is dependent upon the healing process, which is affected by the age of the patient. It is therefore not possible to be precise when indicating a prognostic timetable.

Protection Phase (0 - 6 weeks)

Preparation:

  • In younger patients, the shoulder should be immobilised in a sling for 3 to 4 weeks. In patients over 40 years of age the sling should be discarded sooner to prevent secondary stiffening of the shoulder.

  • No overhead arm movement or sporting activity should be undertaken for 6 weeks.

  • Care should be taken at night, with some form of immobilizing device worn in bed.

Some active exercises can be started immediately. However, the extent of shoulder movement should be guided by pain, since over-stretching the healing tissues only delays the recovery. The exercises that follow should take place in the pain-free range.

Active exercises:

  • Use a Grip Strengthener for 10 minutes every couple of hours, in order to maintain wrist, hand and finger strength.

  • Wrist and elbow bending and straightening should be practiced at least twice daily.

  • The arm can be raised forward to the level of the shoulder (90 degrees) and out to the side to the level of the ribs (60 degrees).

Isometric exercises can be started once the arm is out of the sling:

  • Isometric contraction of the lateral rotator muscles of the shoulder.
    This is achieved by pushing against a wall without any movement taking place.
Isometric contraction of the lateral rotator muscles
  • More advanced strengthening of the lateral rotator muscles using a weight and pulley device.
Advanced isometric contraction of the lateral rotator muscles
  • Isometric contraction of the medial rotator muscles of the shoulder.
    This is achieved by pushing against a wall without any movement taking place.
Isometric contraction of the medial rotator muscles
  • More advanced strengthening of the medial rotator muscles using a weight and pulley device.
Advanced isometric contraction of the medial rotator muscles

The range of movement in the shoulder can be gradually increased over the course of 2-4 weeks.







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Shoulder Injuries