Surgery for Multidirectional Shoulder Instability

with Phase I Rehab

Serious cases of anterior shoulder instability that involve recurrent shoulder dislocations or symptoms that persist for greater than 6 months despite non-surgical (conservative) treatment, may result in an inability to perform activities of daily living. Multidirectional shoulder instability is often not associated with trauma, as other types of shoulder instability are, but instead by repetitive and/ or strenuous use of the shoulder joint. Thus, the onset of instability is a slower process. Occasionally surgery will be recommended for individuals after their first dislocation. However, these cases typically have a lower recovery rate. The purpose of this operation is to restore stability to the shoulder (glenohumeral) joint. In general, more stable joints allow less movement; therefore this procedure may reduce your range of motion. Multiple techniques exist for completing this surgery.

REASONS NOT TO HAVE SURGERY

  • Infection of the shoulder joint.

  • Inability to complete a post-operative rehabilitation program.

  • Other conditions (emotional or psychological) that may affect the outcome of the surgery.

  • Shoulder instability in any other direction besides forward (anteriorly).

  • Purposely dislocating the shoulder.

  • Arthritis of the joint (not an absolute reason to not have surgery).

  • Damage to nerves that connect the rotator cuff (not an absolute reason to not have surgery).

RISKS AND COMPLICATIONS

  • Risks inherent to surgery: infection, bleeding, nerve damage, or damage to surrounding tissues.

  • Recurrent symptoms that result in a chronic problem.

  • Unequal balance of tightening of the joint capsule, that results in dislocation or subluxation of the shoulder in the other direction.

  • Shoulder pain.

  • Detachment one of the shoulder muscles (subscapularis).

  • Loss of motion.

  • Inability to compete in athletics.

  • Moving or breaking of surgical anchors.

  • Arthritis.

TECHNIQUE

Multiple techniques exist for surgically repairing multidirectional shoulder instability: arthroscopic techniques and open-incision techniques. Both techniques have the same goal of restoring stability to your shoulder and preventing future dislocations or partial dislocations (subluxations). Your shoulder is loose in many directions, but usually one direction is the most common, and the surgery is dependent on the predominate direction of looseness. Surgeons may access the shoulder joint from the front (anterior) or back (posterior) or both.

The most common open-incision technique involves a larger incision to access the shoulder joint either posteriorly or anteriorly. The rim of cartilage around the shoulder (labrum) is then reattached to the shoulder joint socket (glenoid fossa). After the labrum has been repaired, the surgeon tightens the joint capsule by folding it upon itself and then he or she will sew (suture) the fold together.

Arthroscopic techniques for repairing anterior shoulder instability require multiple smaller incisions than open-incision surgery. The surgeon uses a video camera and small tools placed in the joint to repair the torn labrum by suturing it to the glenoid fossa. The joint capsule is then tightened by folding it upon itself and having it sutured together or by using heat, which shrinks the capsule.

There are other techniques that are less common that do not focus on trying to replicate the original structure of the joint.

POSTOPERATIVE COURSE

  • The post-operative management depends on the surgical procedure and the preferences of your surgeon and therapist.

  • Keep the wound clean and dry for the first 10 to 14 days after surgery.

  • Immobilize the shoulder joint with the sling provided to you for the period of time that is specified by your surgeon.

  • You will be given pain medications by your caregiver.

  • Passive (without using muscles) shoulder movements may be begun immediately after surgery.

  • It is important to follow through with you rehabilitation program in order to have the best possible recovery.

RETURN TO SPORTS

  • The rehabilitation period will depend on the sport and position you play as well as the success of the operation.

  • The minimum recovery period is 6 months.

  • You must have regained complete shoulder motion and strength before returning to sports.

  • Full shoulder motion and strength are necessary before returning to sports.

SEEK MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • Any medications produce adverse side effects.

  • Any complications from surgery occur:

  • Pain, numbness, or coldness in the extremity operated upon.

  • Discoloration of the nail beds (they become blue or gray) of the extremity operated upon.

  • Signs of infections (fever, pain, inflammation, redness, or persistent bleeding).

EXERCISES

RANGE OF MOTION (ROM) AND STRETCHING EXERCISES - Shoulder Instability, Multidirectional, Surgery For Phase I: Immediately After Immobilization

These exercises may help you restore your shoulder mobility once your physician has permitted you to begin moving your shoulder. Most surgeons will allow you to initiate shoulder movement between 3 and 12 weeks after your surgery. The length of time passed before beginning these will depend on the severity of your injury and the stabilization of your healing tissues. While completing these exercises, remember:

  • Restoring tissue flexibility helps normal motion to return to the joints. This allows healthier, less painful movement and activity.

  • An effective stretch should be held for at least 30 seconds. A stretch should never be painful. You should only feel a gentle lengthening or release in the stretch.

  • During your recovery, avoid activity or exercises which involve actions that place your right / left hand or elbow above your head or behind your back or head. These positions stress the tissues which are trying to heal.

ROM - Pendulum

  • Bend at the waist so that your right / left arm falls away from your body. Support yourself with your opposite hand on a solid surface, such as a table or a countertop.

  • Your right / left arm should be perpendicular to the ground. If it is not perpendicular, you need to lean over farther. Relax the muscles in your right / left arm and shoulder as much as possible.

  • Gently sway your hips and trunk so they move your right / left arm without any use of your right / left shoulder muscles.

  • Progress your movements so that your right / left arm moves side to side, then forward and backward, and finally, both clockwise and counterclockwise.

  • Complete __________ repetitions in each direction. Many people use this exercise to relieve discomfort in their shoulder as well as to gain range of motion.

Repeat __________ times. Complete this exercise __________ times per day.

STRETCH – Flexion, Seated

  • Sit in a firm chair so that your right / left forearm can rest on a table or on a table or countertop. Your right / left elbow should rest below the height of your shoulder so that your shoulder feels supported and not tense or uncomfortable.

  • Keeping your right / left shoulder relaxed, lean forward at your waist, allowing your right / left hand to slide forward. Bend forward until you feel a moderate stretch in your shoulder, but before you feel an increase in your pain.

  • Hold __________ seconds. Slowly return to your starting position.

Repeat __________ times. Complete this exercise __________ times per day.

ROM – Flexion, Active-Assisted

  • Lie on your back. You may bend your knees for comfort.

  • Grasp a broomstick or cane so your hands are about shoulder-width apart. Your right / left hand should grip the end of the stick/cane so that your hand is positioned "thumbs-up," as if you were about to shake hands.

  • Using your healthy arm to lead, raise your right / left arm overhead until you feel a gentle stretch in your shoulder. Hold __________ seconds.

  • Use the stick/cane to assist in returning your right / left arm to its starting position.

Repeat __________ times. Complete this exercise __________ times per day.

STRENGTHENING EXERCISES - Shoulder Instability, Multidirectional, Surgery For Phase I: Immediately After Immobilization

These exercises may help you restore your shoulder strength once your physician has discontinued your immobilization. When completing these exercises, do not raise your arm above shoulder-height until your physician, physical therapist or athletic trainer has instructed you to do so. Advancing your exercise before your provider's approval may result in delayed healing. While completing these exercises, remember:

  • Muscles can gain both the endurance and the strength needed for everyday activities through controlled exercises.

  • Complete these exercises as instructed by your physician, physical therapist or athletic trainer. Progress the resistance and repetitions only as guided.

  • You may experience muscle soreness or fatigue, but the pain or discomfort you are trying to eliminate should never worsen during these exercises. If this pain does worsen, stop and make certain you are following the directions exactly. If the pain is still present after adjustments, discontinue the exercise until you can discuss the trouble with your clinician.

  • During your recovery, avoid activity or exercises which involve actions that place your right / left hand or elbow above your head or behind your back or head. These positions stress the tissues which are trying to heal.

STRENGTH - Shoulder Flexion, Isometric

  • With good posture and facing a wall, stand or sit about 4-6 inches away.

  • Keeping your right / left elbow straight, gently press the top of your fist into the wall. Increase the pressure gradually until you are pressing as hard as you can without shrugging your shoulder or increasing any shoulder discomfort.

  • Hold __________ seconds.

  • Release the tension slowly. Relax your shoulder muscles completely before you do the next repetition.

Repeat __________ times. Complete this exercise __________ times per day.

STRENGTH - Shoulder Abductors, Isometric

  • With good posture, stand or sit about 4-6 inches from a wall with your right / left side facing the wall.

  • Bend your right / left elbow. Gently press your right / left elbow into the wall. Increase the pressure gradually until you are pressing as hard as you can without shrugging your shoulder or increasing any shoulder discomfort.

  • Hold __________ seconds.

  • Release the tension slowly. Relax your shoulder muscles completely before you do the next repetition.

Repeat __________ times. Complete this exercise __________ times per day.

STRENGTH - External Rotators, Isometric

  • Keep your right / left elbow at your side and bend it 90 degrees.

  • Step into a door frame so that the outside of your right / left wrist can press against the door frame without your upper arm leaving your side.

  • Gently press your right / left wrist into the door frame as if you were trying to swing the back of your hand away from your abdomen. Gradually increase the tension until you are pressing as hard as you can without shrugging your shoulder or increasing any shoulder discomfort.

  • Hold __________ seconds.

  • Release the tension slowly. Relax your shoulder muscles completely before you do the next repetition.

Repeat __________ times. Complete this exercise __________ times per day.

STRENGTH - Internal Rotators, Isometric

  • Keep your right / left elbow at your side and bend it 90 degrees.

  • Step into a door frame so that the inside of your right / left wrist can press against the door frame without your upper arm leaving your side.

  • Gently press your right / left wrist into the door frame as if you were trying to draw the palm of your hand to your abdomen. Gradually increase the tension until you are pressing as hard as you can without shrugging your shoulder or increasing any shoulder discomfort.

  • Hold __________ seconds.

  • Release the tension slowly. Relax your shoulder muscles completely before you do the next repetition.

Repeat __________ times. Complete this exercise __________ times per day.

STRENGTH - Shoulder Extensors

  • Secure a rubber exercise band/tubing so that it is at the height of your shoulders when you are either standing or sitting on a firm arm-less chair.

  • With a thumbs-up grip, grasp an end of the band/tubing in each hand. Straighten your elbows and lift your hands straight in front of you at shoulder height. Step back away from the secured end of band/tubing until it becomes tense.

  • Squeezing your shoulder blades together, pull your hands down to the sides of your thighs. Do not allow your hands to go behind you.

  • Hold for __________ seconds. Slowly ease the tension on the band/tubing as you reverse the directions and return to the starting position.

Repeat __________ times. Complete this exercise __________ times per day.

STRENGTH - External Rotators

  • Secure a rubber exercise band/tubing to a fixed object so that it is at the same height as your right / left elbow when you are standing or sitting on a firm surface.

  • Stand or sit so that the secured exercise band/tubing is at your side that is not injured.

  • Bend your elbow 90 degrees. Place a folded towel or small pillow under your right / left arm so that your elbow is a few inches away from your side.

  • Keeping the tension on the exercise band/tubing, pull it away from your body, as if pivoting on your elbow. Be sure to keep your body steady so that the movement is only coming from your shoulder rotating.

  • Hold __________ seconds. Release the tension in a controlled manner as you return to the starting position.

Repeat __________ times. Complete this exercise __________ times per day.

STRENGTH - Scapular Protractors, Standing

  • Stand arms-length away from a wall. Place your hands on the wall, keeping your elbows straight.

  • Begin by dropping your shoulder blades down and toward your mid-back spine.

  • To strengthen your protractors, keep your shoulder blades down, but slide them forward on your rib cage. It will feel as if you are lifting the back of your rib cage away from the wall. This is a subtle motion and can be challenging to complete. Ask your clinician for further instruction if you are not sure you are doing the exercise correctly.

  • Hold for __________ seconds. Slowly return to the starting position, resting the muscles completely before completing the next repetition.

Repeat __________ times. Complete this exercise __________ times per day.