The duration of treatment and the type and number of physical therapy exercises for a fractured shoulder would vary depending on the patient’s condition. The procedure for physical therapy rehabilitation and treatment would depend on which bone has been injured. An X-ray may have to be taken to study the condition of the shoulder. The doctor would aim to get the bones into a position that would restore arm movement and encourage healing. A neck of the humerus fracture is typically treated with a shoulder immobilizer or sling. For a fracture of the clavicle, the patient would be required to first wear a sling and strap around the chest to position the clavicle correctly. Once the sling and strap have been removed, exercises can be started.
Shoulder physical therapy exercises are beneficial in the following respects:
• Help to alleviate pain
• Help to restore normal flexibility and motion to the shoulder
• Improve function
• Boost strength of the joint and muscles
Different Exercises that May Help to Heal a Fractured Shoulder
Some of the different exercises that may be adopted in case of a fractured shoulder are described below:
• Initial Exercises – In the initial stages, it is important to minimize chances of further injury and this is what your physical therapist would keep in mind. The duration of the exercise should be limited and be immediately followed by ice packs and elevation of the joint. Depending on whether a surgical setting was required to fix the break, and the seriousness of the fracture, non-weight-bearing, simple movements would be suitable. The important thing is to maintain arm stability at the time of movement. Motion with the injured limb should begin at the shoulder and there should be minimal rotation.
• Stretching Exercises – These physical therapy exercises are directed at fighting stiffness and enhancing range of motion. Stretching is important to restore flexibility to the muscles and joints and to avert the formation of scar tissue.
• Range of motion exercises – If you do not have full range of motion, you will not be able to carry out your routine activities such as combing your hair, scratching your back, or buckling a seat belt. Exercises to improve range of motion help to restore the complete use of the shoulder and arm. This may include actions such as rotation, and exercises to loosen the muscles and improve flexibility, ease pain and improve strength.
• Strengthening Exercises – They help to enhance strength, range of motion, and stamina. They also help to enhance muscle function.
• Rotator Cuff Exercises – The rotator cuff is a set of muscles and tendons that provide for shoulder stability. They also assist with shoulder movements. The rotator cuff muscles (4 in number) are frequently torn or damaged during shoulder injuries. Exercises can restore strength in the rotator cuff.
Apart from exercises, massage is an important treatment performed for a patient as at a physical therapy center. The physical therapist would massage the shoulder to generate circulation and enhance blood flow in the area. Using specialized tools or their hands, these specialists would rhythmically knead, stroke, or rub your shoulder to stimulate nutrient and oxygen delivery. This would help to get rid of lactic acid developing in the shoulder and causing pain and spasms. Massages improve range of motion and elasticity.
To ensure the success of physical therapy exercises and other treatment for your fractured shoulder, it is imperative that the home be organized in such a manner as to minimize exertion of the fractured shoulder. Ideally, materials or goods in the house must be kept at a height that would not require the patient to raise his arm above his head.