Effectiveness of formal physical therapy following total shoulder arthroplasty: A systematic review

Peter K. Edwards*, Jay R. Ebert, Chris Littlewood, Tim Ackland, Allan Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Physical therapy is considered routine practice following total shoulder arthroplasty. To date, current regimens are based on clinical opinion, with evidence-based recommendations. The aim of this systematic review was to evaluate the effectiveness of total shoulder arthroplasty physical therapy programmes with a view to inform current clinical practice, as well as to develop a platform upon which future research might be conducted. Methods: An electronic search of MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL and Cochrane Library to March 2018 was complemented by hand and citation-searching. Studies were selected in relation to pre-defined criteria. A narrative synthesis was undertaken. Results: A total of 506 papers were identified in the electronic database search, with only one study showing moderate evidence of early physical therapy promoting a more rapid return of short-term improvement in function and pain. No studies evaluated the effectiveness of physical therapy programmes in reverse total shoulder arthroplasty procedures. Discussion: Restoring range of motion and strength following total shoulder arthroplasty is considered important for patients to obtain a good outcome post-surgery and, when applied early, may offer more rapid recovery. Given the rising incidence of total shoulder arthroplasties, especially reverse total shoulder arthroplasty, there is an urgent need for high-quality, adequately powered randomised controlled trials to determine the effectiveness of rehabilitation programmes following these surgeries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-143
Number of pages8
JournalShoulder and Elbow
Issue number2
Early online date25 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020


  • physical therapy
  • rehabilitation
  • reverse shoulder arthroplasty
  • total shoulder arthroplasty


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