Postgrad Med J 2001;77:645-649 ( October )


Management of shoulder pain in patients with stroke K Walsh

Colchester General Hospital, Colchester, UK

Shoulder pain affects from 16% to 72% of patients after a cerebrovascular accident. Hemiplegic shoulder pain causes considerable distress and reduced activity and can markedly hinder rehabilitation. The aetiology of hemiplegic shoulder pain is probably multifactorial. The ideal management of hemiplegic stroke pain is prevention. For prophylaxis to be effective, it must begin immediately after the stroke. Awareness of potential injuries to the shoulder joint reduces the frequency of shoulder pain after stroke. The multidisciplinary team, patients, and carers should be provided with instructions on how to avoid injuries to the affected limb. Foam supports or shoulder strapping may be used to prevent shoulder pain. Overarm slings should be avoided. Treatment of shoulder pain after stroke should start with simple analgesics. If shoulder pain persists, treatment should include high intensity transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation or functional electrical stimulation. Intra-articular steroid injections may be used in resistant cases.

Keywords: shoulder pain; stroke

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