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Current Evidence in the Management of Poststroke Hemiplegic Shoulder Pain: A Review

Li, Zheng; Alexander, Sheila A.

Journal of Neuroscience Nursing: February 2015 - Volume 47 - Issue 1 - p 10–19
doi: 10.1097/JNN.0000000000000109

ABSTRACT Hemiplegic shoulder pain is a common, complex, and distressing complication, which is related to stroke and occurs in the paralytic side of the patient. It not only presents in the early stage but also can persist into the chronic stage of stroke. The incidence of this complication varies from 12% to 58%, and the most common period of occurrence is at 8–10 weeks poststroke. The multifactorial etiology and underlying mechanisms make it intractable. It is difficult to get a clear description of the percentage of patients receiving adequate pain relief because of a large number of treatments and different results found in interventional studies performed in subjects in different stages of stroke. This review summarizes the incidence, temporal presentation, and etiology of hemiplegic shoulder pain and the current advances in its management and analyzes the reliability and validity of the studies. It suggests careful and regular assessment, and an integrated care model is necessary in practice.

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Zheng Li, MSN, is a Senior Lecturer, School of Nursing, Fudan University, Shanghai, China.

Questions or comments about this article may be directed to Sheila A. Alexander, PhD RN, at She is an Associate Professor, Acute & Tertiary Care, School of Nursing, and Critical Care Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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© 2015 American Association of Neuroscience Nurses