How to Alleviate Shoulder Pain From Pushing a Wheelchair


After 33 years of pushing a wheel chair (15 with power assist wheels) and finally getting a power chair and an EZ Lock system to drive from the chair, my shoulders still hurt! It has only been 2 months in the chair and 2 weeks for the EZ Lock and I don’t understand why they keep hurting, even tho I am using them less?

Thanks for the question and I am so sorry you are still in pain. My first suggestion would be to visit your physician to rule out any medical reasons that may be causing your shoulder pain. A visit to an orthopaedic physician and an x-ray will document your cause of pain. A power chair and the EZ Lock system will assist in reducing the stress on the shoulder joint but unfortunately it may take longer than two months to feel an improvement. Remember, the cause of your shoulder pain occurred over a long time period and it will take time to improve. Our hands, arms, and shoulders are doing the work of our legs now. Sometimes even the simplest tasks such as eating, lifting, driving, dressing, typing on computer, or transferring disrupts the shoulder joint. Do you notice one shoulder is more painful than the other and if so, is that your dominant shoulder? Usually the dominant joint is the most uncomfortable, since it is utilized more. If you notice from my photos, I too, am in a power chair due to documented shoulder arthritis. So I feel your pain and I still have occasional pain in my shoulder joint depending on activities. Range of motion exercises for the shoulder may alleviate the pain over time. I would suggest ice if the injury was new but I believe it has occurred over a long period of time, so icing it will do little in reducing the pain. I use an OTC analgesic cream when the pain worsens which occurs from over usage or a change in the weather. But there are two tidbits of information I feel the need to share: 1.) Be very careful in your intake of NSAIDS or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (Naproxen, Aleve, Motrin, or Ibuprofen) as they are very irritating to the stomach lining and 2.) Continue to use the shoulder joint; not using it will cause further pain. Please keep me informed and continue rolling.

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The Rollin RN, Patty Kunze, RNC, BSN

Patty has been a Nurse for 31 years, since 1983. She actually worked for two years prior to her spinal cord injury (SCI) in the SCI Unit at the Veterans Hospita,l working with new injuries. She then transferred to neonatal intensive care and ultimately to education of students in nursing.

Patty, The Rolling RN, Is A Regular Contributor To PUSHLiving

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