Shoulder Pain among Rehabilitated Spinal Cord Injured Persons Using Manually Propelled Wheelchairs in the Gaza Strip: A Survey

Khamis El Essi, Jadallah M El-Shafie, Ziad Al Hawamdah, Sami I Zaqout


Shoulder pain among paraplegic persons has negative effects on their lives. The prevalence of shoulder pain among persons with spinal cord injury (SCI) varies from 30% to 70% in different studies and may be related to repetitive use of the shoulder during self-care and wheelchair-related activities.


Purpose: This study focused on the prevalence of shoulder pain and examined its effects on activities of daily living and social participation, and on functional, work and recreational or athletic activities. It also aimed to detect the degree of satisfaction with shoulder functioning wheelchair users who were paraplegic due to  spinal cord injury, in the Gaza strip.


Methods: Cross sectional study design was used to collect data from 80 persons with paraplegia, post rehabilitation, who were still using manual wheelchairs (MWC) for ambulation. After giving informed consent, the selected persons were interviewed directly in their homes, and filled questionnaires which included the demographic data, Wheelchair User’s Shoulder Pain Index (WUSPI) and Shoulder Rating Questionnaire (SRQ).

Results: The prevalence rate of shoulder pain among paraplegics who use manual wheelchairs was 62%. Pushing a wheelchair for 10 minutes or more, and propulsion up ramps or inclines outdoors were the most common activities that caused and exacerbated shoulder pain. Sixty four percent from among the study sample mentioned that they had no limitation in shoulder-using ability during daily personal and household activities, while the rest experienced different degrees of limitation. Seventy-four percent reported no limitation during recreational or athletic activities, while the rest (26%) agreed that pain has variably limited their participation in these activities. Fourteen percent from the sample rated the overall degree of satisfaction with their shoulder functioning as fair, and the rest rated their satisfaction from good to excellent.

Conclusion: Shoulder pain, ranging from mild to severe, was highly prevalent among SCI paraplegics who use MWCs during their usual activities, and other activities which involve wheelchair propulsion. About two- thirds of the subjects reported no limitation in shoulder use during daily personal and household activities and in recreational or athletic activities.

doi 10.5463/DCID.v23i2.105


Shoulder pain; Spinal cord injury; Paraplegia; Manual wheelchair

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