Maintaining Shoulder Health After SCI

Taking care of your shoulder is an essential part of your recovery journey. 

Maintaining the health of your shoulders can be very challenging whilst recovering from your spinal cord injury (SCI).

This article discusses why your shoulders are an important part of your body, the main barriers to maintaining your shoulder health and the best preservation methods.


Don’t forget about your shoulders

The shoulders aren’t necessarily a part of the body your mind jumps to when we’re talking about SCI. However, it is one of the most important areas to consider when you have experienced a spinal cord injury.

This is because the shoulder muscles can complete a vast range of everyday movements we take for granted. When this is inhibited or restricted, it can be difficult to adjust. Your shoulders are therefore an incredibly vulnerable location for damage.


Don’t suffer in silence

According to a recent study, half of the people who have a spinal cord injury have pain in both shoulders, which will often last longer than a year.
Please don’t suffer in silence. Your pain is valid and must be attended to by a medical professional.


The knock-on effects

There are so many knock-on effects to injuring or straining your shoulder muscles. Not only can it make it harder to push your wheelchair or harder to look after yourself independently, but it can also make it incredibly uncomfortable to sleep at night and therefore inhibit your ability to heal more effectively. This can also increase the levels of frustration with your recovery.


Main barriers

One of the main barriers to shoulder health after a spinal cord injury can be concerning your wheelchair. Completing tasks that rely solely on the movement of your shoulders and connecting muscles can cause strain and make it difficult to recover by increasing the risk of damage.


Shoulder preservation

The best way to prevent your shoulder health from deteriorating after a spinal cord injury is to make sure you warm up your shoulder and back muscles before you use them for anything. This prevents the muscles from becoming strained unnecessarily while completing everyday activities, like dressing yourself and even reaching to open a door.

Changing the methods in which you conduct certain tasks, like dressing, brushing your teeth, etc. can be life-changing and instrumental for your recovery. Changing this at the earliest stage possible will assist your journey to independence and decrease your likelihood of needing a carer.

Planning your day more efficiently can also be invaluable to your recovery. Grouping activities together that can be completed in the same location or position will help to reduce the unnecessary use of your shoulder and the number of transfers you’ll need.



The key to your recovery is remembering that preventative measures are always more effective than attempting to cure your pain. Give yourself extra time to complete daily tasks so that you don’t rush and accidentally strain your shoulder, injuring yourself further.

Your shoulders were never intended to support your entire body weight, so making sure you take everything slowly and reduce your transfers will be incredibly helpful.


Start your claim today

We are the leading law firm for spinal cord injury claims. In addition to our expertise in the field, we also help our clients get access to rehabilitation and other support services that help to get them back to an independent life.

So, start your claim with Aspire Law today, or click here to find out more about all of the services we provide.