The Weight-Bearing Shoulder

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Abstract

The shoulder achieves a wide spectrum of motion, and in a subset of patients, including those who use manual wheelchairs and upper extremity walking aids, the shoulder also serves as the primary weight-bearing joint. Because the weight-bearing shoulder is subject to considerable joint reaction forces and overuse, a broad spectrum of pathology can affect the joint. The combination of muscle imbalance and repetitive trauma presents most commonly as subacromial impingement syndrome but can progress to other pathology. Patients with high-level spinal cord injury, leading to quadriplegia and motor deficits, have an increased incidence of shoulder pain. Understanding the needs of patients who use manual wheelchairs or walking aids can help the physician to better comprehend the pathology of and better manage the weight-bearing shoulder.

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