Evaluation and treatment of shoulder subluxation in hemiplegia: relationship between subluxation and pain

Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 1998 Sep-Oct;77(5):421-6. doi: 10.1097/00002060-199809000-00012.


Shoulder subluxation in hemiplegic patients has been recognized as a difficult problem to manage. In the study contained herein, our aims are to evaluate shoulder subluxation, to clarify if shoulder subluxation causes pain, and to discuss the treatment of shoulder subluxation. The study included 75 hemiplegic patients with shoulder subluxation. Each patient was evaluated for the degree of shoulder pain, motor recovery of the upper limb, and shoulder range of motion. Some indexes for evaluating subluxation were measured with radiographs of the shoulders. Arthrograms of the affected shoulder joint were taken in 23 patients. The following results were found: (1) shoulder pain was significant more frequently in left hemiplegia; (2) vertical disparity was strongly correlated with discrepancy of the descendant ratio; (3) severe inferior subluxation had a tendency to show medial displacement of the humeral head; (4) there were correlations between shoulder pain and shoulder range of motion, especially external rotation; (5) adhesive changes in the arthrograms were seen in most subjects. These results indicate that there is no relation between shoulder subluxation and pain, and adhesive capsulitis is a main cause of shoulder pain. We conclude that correct positioning and shoulder range of motion exercises are advisable in hemiplegic patients with shoulder subluxation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Female
  • Hemiplegia / complications*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Shoulder Dislocation / complications*
  • Shoulder Dislocation / physiopathology
  • Shoulder Dislocation / rehabilitation
  • Shoulder Dislocation / therapy*
  • Shoulder Joint / physiopathology
  • Shoulder Pain / etiology*
  • Shoulder Pain / physiopathology