Shoulder Rehabilitation

Subacromial Decompression/ AC Joint Excision


When will I go home?

What can I do?

What can’t I do?

3-5 days You will be discharged on the same day as the operation Any range of motion without causing pain Respect pain, no forced movement or repeated overhead activities

Acute phase (0-2 weeks)


  • Reduce pain
  • Restore range of movement
  • Minimise muscle inhibition
  • Discard sling 3-5 days after operation


  • Active assisted/active supported mobilization respecting pain
  • Isometric rotator cuff exercises
  • Ensure scapular control
  • Scapular stabiliser exercises
  • Postural correction

Criteria for progression

  • Reduction and control of pain
  • Range of movement (should achieve >90° elevation by end of first week)
  • Compliance with exercises

Intermediate phase (2-6 weeks)


  • Reduce pain further
  • Restore functional range of movement
  • Cuff and scapular control


  • Progress cuff and scapula recruitment and control through range
  • Continue to increase range of movement
  • Progress kinetic chain integration
  • Increase functional emphasis movement pattern correction
  • Hydrotherapy permitted

Criteria for progression

  • Pain free functional range of movement
  • Control of cuff and scapular through functional range

Late phase (>6 weeks)


  • Restore optimal cuff and scapula control through range
  • Optimise function specific power, strength and endurance
  • Return to work, sport and recreational activities


  • Ensure neuromuscular control through range and incorporated with kinetic chain
  • Function specific strengthening and endurance exercises
  • Continue to strengthen cuff and scapular musculature

Guidelines for return to functional activities





1 week As able Breaststroke 2 weeks, avoid freestyle for 6 weeks 6 weeks
Devinder Garewal

Mr. Devinder Garewal

MBBS, BMedSci, FRACS (Orth), FAOrthA

Mr. Devinder Garewal is an orthopaedic shoulder specialist. Devinder completed his medical qualifications from the University of Melbourne and is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and the Australian Orthopaedic Association.

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