The relationship of shoulder pain intensity to quality of life, physical activity, and community participation in persons with paraplegia


Background/Objective: For persons with spinal cord injury (SCI), severe bodily pain is related to a lower quality of life. However, the effect of pain from a specific body region on quality of life has yet to be determined. The shoulder joint is a common site of pain among persons with SCI. Therefore, our purpose was to identify the relationship of self-reported shoulder pain with quality of life, physical activity, and community activities in persons with paraplegia resulting from SCI. Methods: Eighty participants with shoulder pain who propel a manual wheelchair (mean age: 44.7 years; mean duration of injury: 20 years; injury level T1-L2) completed the following questionnaires: Wheelchair User's Shoulder Pain Index, Subjective Quality of Life Scale, Physical Activity Scale for Individuals with Physical Disabilities, and Community Activities Checklist. Correlations between shoulder pain scores and quality of life, physical activity, and community activities were determined using Spearman's rho test. Results: Shoulder pain intensity was inversely related to subjective quality of life (rs = -0.35; P = 0.002) and physical activity (r s = -0.42; P < 0.001). Shoulder pain intensity was not related to involvement in community activities (rs = -0.07; P = 0.526). Conclusions: Persons with SCI who reported lower subjective quality of life and physical activity scores experienced significantly higher levels of shoulder pain. However, shoulder pain intensity did not relate to involvement in general community activities. Attention to and interventions for shoulder pain in persons with SCI may improve their overall quality of life and physical activity.


Physical Therapy

Document Type

Conference Proceeding




Paraplegia, Quality of life, Shoulder pain, Spinal cord injuries, Wheelchair

Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine