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Shoulder Manipulation

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jun 5, 2024.

What is shoulder manipulation?

Shoulder manipulation is a procedure to relieve shoulder stiffness and poor range of motion. This procedure may be suggested if other treatment does not help. The other treatments may include exercise, medicine, and physical therapy. Shoulder manipulation breaks away scar tissue that keeps your shoulder from moving properly. The scar tissue causes severe pain and stiffness in your shoulder that affects your normal daily activities.

How do I prepare for shoulder manipulation?

Make a plan for someone to drive you home and stay with you for at least a day. Your healthcare provider may tell you not to eat or drink after midnight the day before your procedure. He or she will tell you what medicine to take or not take before your procedure. Wear a comfortable shirt that can be worn under your shoulder sling.

What will happen during shoulder manipulation?

You will be given general anesthesia to keep you asleep and pain-free during your procedure. Tell your healthcare provider if you or any member of your family has ever had problems with anesthesia. You may also receive an injection in your neck to numb your neck and shoulder areas. You will be on your back in the procedure room. Your healthcare provider will move your shoulder up and out, and then down and in. This will break up the scar tissue holding your shoulder in place. Your healthcare provider will make sure that your shoulder is moved through its entire range of motion. The movement will be repeated. Shoulder manipulation may be done with other procedures, such as arthroscopic capsular release.

What can I expect after shoulder manipulation?

You will be sent home after you recover from anesthesia. You will need to use ice and pain medicine after you get home to help with pain and swelling. Your healthcare provider will tell you when to start exercises on your own and physical therapy. A physical therapist will teach you exercises to help strengthen your shoulder. You may have pain and swelling for up to 2 weeks after your procedure.

What are the risks of shoulder manipulation?

Shoulder manipulation may cause injuries to nerves and other parts of your shoulder. It may also cause your shoulder to continue to be stiff and not stable. Shoulder manipulation may cause a bone in your arm to break. Your risks increase if you smoke, have a chronic medical condition, or had previous shoulder surgery. You may have a reaction to the anesthesia you are given.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.