CUH Logo

Mobile menu open

Capsular release

Patient information A-Z

General advice

In this procedure the capsule supporting the shoulder joint is cut to allow more movement. The capsule is made up of soft tissues that help to stabilise the joint and should allow the joint to move freely through a normal range.

  • The following information is designed to optimise the healing process after your shoulder surgery.
  • Use your sling for comfort only. You should aim to discard it within two to three days after being discharged from hospital.
  • If you have had nerve block for surgery, expect numbness to persist for up to two days after discharge.
  • It is important to note that your shoulder will feel uncomfortable/painful, however this is normal after the surgery.
  • We advise you to start taking oral pain relief before the nerve block wears off. You will know that the block is starting to wear off when you feel ‘pins and needles’ and you are able to move your fingers. These changes start in the hand and slowly work their way up your arm.
  • Once the natural feeling has returned, you should aim to use your arm as normally as possible.
  • Ensure your wounds are kept clean and dry; wear a water proof dressing in the shower until they are healed.
  • A referral will be made to your local physiotherapy service on discharge. They will progress your exercises in the appropriate time frame.


If you have any concerns following discharge from hospital, the inpatient physiotherapy team can be contacted on 01223 216104.


Please be aware that this handout is to be used as a guide. If you find these exercises painful please seek advice from your physiotherapist or doctor.

This information has been compiled by the physiotherapy team at Addenbrooke’s Hospital. You may receive this information during an appointment with a physiotherapist, from your clinic or ward, or via our physiotherapy pages on this website.

Diagram of a person doing exercises
Diagram of a person doing exercises

Pain relief

To help us optimise your treatment, it is important that you have adequate pain relief. You will be sent home with medicine to help relieve the pain. If this is not working please see your G.P.

Use of ice

Ice can be used after your surgery to reduce pain and swelling. Either using an ice pack (or if not available place ice cubes in a plastic bag), wrap this in a tea towel to prevent direct contact with the skin. Apply to the shoulder for 20 minutes. Do not use if there is any numbness in the shoulder.

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

Other formats

Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998.

Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151