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Current Evidence Based Recommendations on Rehabilitation following Arthroscopic Shoulder Surgery: Rotator Cuff, Instability, Superior Labral Pathology, and Adhesive Capsulitis

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Abstract

Purpose of Review

Arthroscopy has become increasingly popular for a addressing a wide variety of shoulder pathology. However, despite increasing interest, there is still much uncertainty and variability amongst providers regarding optimal post-operative rehabilitation. This review provides an overview of the evidence underlying common rehab protocols used following arthroscopic interventions for rotator cuff disease, shoulder instability, superior labral anterior to posterior (SLAP) tears and adhesive capsulitis.

Recent Findings

For small and medium sized rotator cuff tears, early motion protocols do not seem to affect healing or retear rates, however there is no difference with regards to long term functional outcomes when compared to standard motion protocols. For larger tears (> 3 cm), early active motion may be associated with impaired tendon integrity. Early range of motion following arthroscopic Bankart repair has not been shown to increase rate of recurrence, however the data on return to sport requires more granularity to effectively guide care. Further research needs to be done to compare rehab protocols following SLAP repair and arthroscopic capsular release.

Summary

Rehabilitation protocols following rotator cuff surgery and anterior shoulder stabilization have garnered the most research interest. However, there is still a need for larger higher-level studies examining the long-term effects of different rehab protocols. Regarding the arthroscopic management of other types of shoulder instability, SLAP tears and adhesive capsulitis, there is paucity of high-quality evidence. This knowledge gap likely underpins the variability in different rehab protocols seen in clinical practice, highlighting the need for more research.

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Data Availability

No datasets were generated or analysed during the current study.

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JC: made substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data; or the creation of new software used in the work; drafted the work or revised it critically for important intellectual content; approved the version to be published; and agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

SS: made substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data; or the creation of new software used in the work; drafted the work or revised it critically for important intellectual content; approved the version to be published; and agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

AR: made substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data; or the creation of new software used in the work; drafted the work or revised it critically for important intellectual content; approved the version to be published; and agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

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Correspondence to Jason Corban.

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Corban, J., Shah, S. & Ramappa, A.J. Current Evidence Based Recommendations on Rehabilitation following Arthroscopic Shoulder Surgery: Rotator Cuff, Instability, Superior Labral Pathology, and Adhesive Capsulitis. Curr Rev Musculoskelet Med 17, 247–257 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12178-024-09899-7

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