Total shoulder arthroplasty (TSA) is a standard operative treatment for a variety of disorders of the glenohumeral joint. Patients, who have continued shoulder pain and loss of function in the presence of advanced joint pathology, despite conservative management, are often managed by undergoing a TSA. The overall outcomes that are reported after surgical intervention are quite good and appear to be primarily determined by the underlying pathology and the tissue quality of the rotator cuff. The current Neer protocol for postoperative TSA rehabilitation is widely used and based on tradition and the basic science of soft tissue and bone healing. The purpose of this paper is to review the indications for TSA, focusing on the underlying pathologies, and to describe the variables that impact the rehabilitation program of individuals who have had a TSA. A postoperative TSA rehabilitation protocol and algorithm, founded on basic science principles and tailored toward the specific clinical condition, are presented.
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