Shoulder Surgery.

The shoulder is a complex ball and socket joint with more range of movement than any other joint in the body. It is therefore very susceptible to injury, particularly in sports or movements involving overhead, heavy or repetitive shoulder movements. As a result, shoulder surgery can be one of the more common types of surgical intervention.

Shoulder surgery is often indicated for more complex injuries, or those that don’t respond well to conservative treatment such as includes Physiotherapy, manual therapy, exercise, pain medications, anti-inflammatories or steroid injections.

Common Types of Shoulder Surgery

Rotator Cuff Repair

The rotator cuff is a group of muscles around the shoulder that act to provide support and allow for shoulder movement and function. Major injuries (tears or complete ruptures) to these muscles (for example overuse injuries or direct trauma through sport or car accidents) can impact on shoulder function.

Rotator cuff repairs can be performed through arthroscopy or open surgery, with the aim to suture the tear or re-anchor tendons to the bone.

Following surgery, you will be advised to rest as appropriate, and then gradually rebuild range of motion and strength through the shoulder, usually with the guidance of a physio. Manual therapy may also be indicated to assist this process.

Shoulder Arthroscopy (Debridement)

Shoulder arthroscopy involves the use of a camera guided through the shoulder joint through small incisions in the skin. This allows surgeons to look inside the joint and perform procedures like removing damaged tissue or bone without causing too much trauma around the associated/nearby areas.

Shoulder Replacement

This type of shoulder surgery involves the replacement of damaged parts of the shoulder with artificial components. It can either replace the head of humerus (ball) or the glenoid (socket), or both.

A full shoulder replacement is only indicated once other treatment options have been exhausted, or if pain or stiffness is affecting function. It is often performed for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or severe trauma or fractures.

Treatment Options

The decision to undergo shoulder surgery is often done in collaboration with your GP and Orthopaedic Surgeon, and is based on your levels of pain, movement restrictions and function.

Physiotherapy or Exercise Physiology can post-operatively assist in rehabilitation of shoulder strength, mobility and function through the prescription of home exercises and stretches to regain mobility and strength through the shoulder, reduce pain and work towards regaining your functional goals.

A personalized exercise programme can improve and maintain upper body and shoulder strength, and can be done at home or in a supervised setting. This has been shown to be beneficial in maintaining function and preventing the need for another surgery.

Your GP or doctor can provide further medical assistance such as painkiller or anti-inflammatory prescription as required.

Occupational therapy can also assist with advice or equipment to assist with mobility and function around the home.


If you’re planning on shoulder surgery, be sure to maintain open discussion with the GP and surgeon involved in your care.

Your doctors, Physiotherapist or Exercise Physiologist can provide basic exercises to assist with range, but these exercises are entirely dependent on your own personal situation and the type of surgery you are having performed.

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