Shoulder pain and its consequences in paraplegic spinal cord-injured, wheelchair users

Spinal Cord. 2004 Jan;42(1):41-6. doi: 10.1038/


Study design: Cross-sectional.

Objectives: To describe the consequences of shoulder pain on activity and participation in spinal cord-injured paraplegic wheelchair users. To describe the prevalence and type of shoulder pain.

Setting: Two spinal cord injury (SCI) centres in Sweden.

Methods: All subjects with paraplegia due to an SCI of more than 1 year living in the counties of Uppsala and Linköping, Sweden were contacted by mail and asked to fill in a questionnaire (89 subjects). Those of the responding 56 subjects with current shoulder pain were asked to participate in further examination and interviews. A physiotherapist examined 13 subjects with shoulder pain in order to describe type and site of impairment. To describe consequences of shoulder pain on activity and participation, the Constant Murley Scale (CMS), the Wheelchair Users Shoulder Pain Index (WUSPI) the Klein & Bell adl-index and the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure (COPM) were used.

Results: Out of all respondents, 21 had shoulder pain (37.5%). Data from 13 of those subjects were used in the description of type and consequences of shoulder pain. Findings of muscular atrophy, pain, impingement and tendinits were described. We found no difference in ADL-performance with, respectively without, shoulder pain (P=0.08) using the Klein & Bell adl-index. No correlation was found between the various descriptions of impairment, activity limitations and participation restriction (P>0.08). All together 52 problems with occupational performance due to shoulder pain were identified using the COPM. Of these, 54% were related to self-care activities.

Conclusion: The consequences of shoulder pain in paraplegic wheelchair users are mostly related to wheelchair activities. Since the wheelchair use itself presumably cause shoulder problems, this will become a vicious circle. More research is needed in order to reduce shoulder problems in wheelchair users.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement / methods*
  • Paraplegia / complications*
  • Paraplegia / physiopathology
  • Shoulder Pain / complications*
  • Shoulder Pain / physiopathology
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / complications*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / physiopathology
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Wheelchairs / statistics & numerical data*