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High prevalence of shoulder pain among elite Norwegian female handball players


Correspondence author: Grethe Myklebust, PhD, Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center, Department of Sports Medicine, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, PO Box 4014 Ullevål Stadion, 0806 Oslo, Norway. Fax: +47 23 26 23 07, E-mail:


Clinical experience indicates that a substantial number of handball players may suffer from shoulder pain, but they continue to play despite having shoulder pain problems. The aim of this study was to evaluate the prevalence and consequences of shoulder pain problems among Norwegian female elite handball players. In the preseason of the 2007–2008 season, 179 players from all 12 teams of the Norwegian elite league went through the following tests: internal and external shoulder range of motion, apprehension, relocation test, and shooting velocity. All players completed the Fahlström questionnaire and, for players with current pain, the Western Ontario shoulder instability index questionnaire. Sixty-five (36%) players reported shoulder pain on the test day, and 40 (22%) players reported previous shoulder pain. Two thirds of the players with pain reported a gradual onset. For players with current or previous pain, 22 (36%) and 14 (36%) had missed match play, and 43 (68%) and 28 (76%) reported changing their training habits. A positive apprehension and relocation test was found among 51 (29%) of the players. In conclusion, a high proportion of female elite handball players experience shoulder pain and problems and have an unstable shoulder.