Poststroke Shoulder Pain: Inevitable or Preventable?


  • Sara Ivey Zeferino OTR/L,

    Occupational Therapist, Corresponding author
    Search for more papers by this author
    • Sara Ivey Zeferino, OTR/L, is an occupational therapist at Emory University Center for Rehabilitation Medicine in Atlanta, GA.

  • Dawn M. Aycock MSN ANP-BC

    Clinical Assistant ProfessorSearch for more papers by this author
    • Dawn M. Aycock, MSN ANP-BC, is a clinical assistant professor in the Byrdine F. Lewis School of Nursing at Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA. Authors have no relevant financial relationships to disclose. This article does not discuss off-label use.


Cerebral vascular accident or stroke is recognized as the leading cause of disability in the United States; consequently, it is important that all healthcare professionals working with this population develop competency of care to promote functional recovery. One of the most profound effects of stroke is upper-extremity dysfunction. With correct handling, proper positioning, and ongoing patient-caregiver education, healthcare professionals can positively influence upper-extremity recovery and prevention of poststroke shoulder pain. In doing so, they will help patients avoid the mass effect that pain can impart on daily routines. The purposes of this article are to describe poststroke shoulder pain, discuss possible causes of shoulder pain, and detail best practices nurses can use to prevent or minimize poststroke shoulder pain.