Initial treatment for AC joint osteoarthritis usually consists of rest and anti-inflammatory medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen. Ensure that you consult with your doctor or pharmacist regarding the use of pain relief or anti-inflammatory medication. Then a personalized rehabilitation program can be developed by your physiotherapist.
If you don't need surgery, we will begin range-of-motion exercises as your pain eases, followed by a program of strengthening. At first, exercises are done with the arm kept below shoulder level. The program then advances to include strength exercises for the rotator cuff and shoulder blade muscles. Our goal is to get your shoulder moving smoothly and to learn how to control your symptoms. We may also need to correct your posture to improve the biomechanics of the shoulder and AC joint. Although the time required for recovery varies, as a guideline, you will probably progress to a home program within four to six weeks.
Your surgeon may have you wear a sling to support and protect the shoulder for a few days. Then our physiotherapist can begin your recovery program. The first few physiotherapy treatments will focus on controlling the pain and swelling from surgery. Ice and electrical stimulation treatments may help. Our physiotherapist may also use massage and other types of hands-on treatments to ease muscle spasm and pain.
Physiotherapy can progress safely and quickly after a simple arthroscopic resection. Our treatments start with postural and range-of-motion exercises and gradually work into active stretching and strengthening. You need to avoid doing too much, too quickly.
Physiotherapy goes slower after surgeries where an incision is made through the shoulder muscles. Our therapists usually wait up to two weeks before starting range-of-motion exercises. You will begin with passive exercises. In passive exercises, our therapist moves your shoulder joint while your muscles stay relaxed. We gently move your joint and gradually stretch your arm. Our physiotherapist may also show you how to do passive exercises at home.
Active therapy usually starts after four to six weeks. Active range-of-motion exercises help you regain shoulder movement using your own muscle power. Our physiotherapist may have you begin with postural and light isometric strengthening exercises. These exercises work the muscles without straining the healing joint.
At about six weeks, you may be able to start more active strengthening. Exercises will focus on improving strength and control of the rotator cuff muscles and the muscles around the shoulder blade. Our physiotherapist will help you retrain these muscles to keep the ball of the humerus centered in the socket. This helps your shoulder move smoothly during all your activities.
Some of the exercises you'll do are designed to get your shoulder working in ways that are similar to your work tasks and sport activities. Our therapist will help you find ways to do your tasks that don't put too much stress on your shoulder. Before your physiotherapy sessions end, we will teach you a number of ways to avoid future problems.
Evidence Sport and Spine provides services for physiotherapy in Calgary.