Question:I am a volleyball player at the collegiate level. I can't tell you how many times I've dislocated my right shoulder while playing. Now that we are in the off-season, I'm going to have surgery to repair it. How long will it take to get my strength back?
Answer:Your rehab and recovery may depend on the type of surgery you have. Some surgical procedures are more involved than others and require a longer period of immobilization before rehab can begin.
The operation can be done by one of two main methods: open versus closed. The open incision method is done arthroscopically and may cause weakness in the internal rotator muscle strength. The tendon of this muscle (the subscapularis muscle) is cut or dissected during an open repair. Scarring and shortening of the tendon after surgery can delay recovery.
Some studies show that open surgery to stabilize the shoulder can also lead to atrophy and fatty infiltration of the subscapularis muscle. The result can be muscle insufficiency and weakness.
A recent study comparing muscle strength after both open and closed operations showed that the long-term results aren't any different. By the end of 12 months, patients in both groups had full return of shoulder motion and strength.
But patients who had the closed (arthroscopic) repair had a faster and better recovery in the short-term. By the end of six weeks, the arthroscopic group had 80 per cent of normal strength. By the end of three months, more than 90 per cent of normal strength had returned.
Not only that, but an aggressive rehab program can be started sooner for patients who have arthroscopic surgery. This may put you closer to your goal of returning to sports play sooner than later. You can expect at least a three- to four-month rehab period after surgery.Yong Girl Rhee, MD, et al. Muscle Strength After Anterior Shoulder Stabilization. Arthroscopic Versus Open Bankart Repair. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. November 2007. Vol. 35. No. 11. Pp. 1859-1864.
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