Shoulder complaints and functional impairment are common sequelae of neck dissection. This is often attributed to injury of the spinal accessory nerve by dissection or direct trauma. Nevertheless, shoulder morbidity may also occur in cases in which the spinal accessory nerve has been preserved. In this article, the physiology and pathophysiology of the shoulder are discussed, followed by a consideration of the impact of neck dissection on shoulder complaints, functional impairment, and quality of life. Finally, rehabilitation will be considered.
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