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Disabil Rehabil. 2001 Nov 10;23(16):698-705.

Hemiplegic shoulder pain: defining the problem and its management.

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The Prince Charles Hospital, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.



Hemiplegic shoulder pain can affect up to 70% of stroke patients and can have an adverse impact on rehabilitation outcomes. This article aims to review the literature on the suggested causes of hemiplegic shoulder pain and the therapeutic techniques that can be used to prevent or treat it. On the basis of this review, the components of an optimal management programme for hemiplegic shoulder pain are explored.


English language articles in the CINAHL and MEDLINE databases between 1990 and 2000 were reviewed. These were supplemented by citation tracking and manual searches.


A management programme for hemiplegic shoulder pain could comprise the following components: provision of an external support for the affected upper limb when the patient is seated, careful positioning in bed, daily static positional stretches, motor retraining and strapping of the scapula to maintain postural tone and symmetry.


Research is required to evaluate the effectiveness of the components of the proposed management programme for the prevention and treatment of hemiplegic shoulder pain and to determine in what combination they achieve the best outcomes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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