A Systematic Review of Proposed Rehabilitation Guidelines Following Anatomic and Reverse Shoulder Arthroplasty.

Journal Article (Systematic Review;Journal Article)


Total shoulder arthroplasty (TSA) is indicated for patients with glenohumeral arthritis. In this procedure, the humeral head and glenoid surface are replaced with prosthetic components. Reverse total shoulder arthroplasty (RTSA) is indicated for patients with glenohumeral arthritis and a poorly functioning rotator cuff. In this procedure, a glenosphere articulates with a humerosocket. While those surgeries are commonly performed, a thorough review of the literature is required to determine the areas of agreement and variations in postoperative rehabilitation.


To describe the literature on rehabilitation protocols following anatomic TSA and RTSA.


For this systematic review, a computerized search was conducted in medical databases from inception to May 21, 2018 for relevant descriptive studies on TSA and RTSA rehabilitation protocols. The methodological index for nonrandomized studies tool and the modified Downs and Black tool for randomized controlled trials were used for assessment of the individual studies.


Sixteen studies met the inclusion criteria, of which 1 provided level I evidence, 1 provided level III evidence, 2 provided level IV evidence, and 12 provided level V evidence. Ten of the studies described rehabilitation guidelines for TSA and 6 described those for RTSA. Following TSA, the use of a sling was recommended for a duration that varied from 3 to 8 weeks, and 4 of the 10 published protocols included resisted exercise during the initial stage of healing (the first 6 weeks after surgery). Seven of 10 published protocols recommended limiting shoulder external rotation to 30° and that passive range of motion be fully restored by 12 weeks post surgery. Suggested use of a sling post RTSA varied from "for comfort only" to 6 weeks, motion parameters varied from no passive range of motion to precautionary range limits, and all protocols agreed on performing deltoid isometric exercises early post surgery. There was a high level of heterogeneity for the rehabilitation guidelines and associated precautions for both TSA and RTSA.


The majority of published protocols were descriptive in nature. Published rehabilitation strategies following TSA and RTSA are based on biomechanical principles, healing time frames, and exercise loading principles, with little consistency among protocols. There is a need to determine optimal rehabilitation approaches post TSA and RTSA based on clinical outcomes.

Level of evidence

Therapy, level 5. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2019;49(5):337-346. doi:10.2519/jospt.2019.8616 .

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Bullock, GS; Garrigues, GE; Ledbetter, L; Kennedy, J

Published Date

  • May 2019

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 49 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 337 - 346

PubMed ID

  • 31021690

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1938-1344

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0190-6011

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.2519/jospt.2019.8616


  • eng