Treatment of hemiplegic shoulder pain in the Netherlands: Results of a national survey

Ingrid A.K. Snels*, Heleen Beckerman, Gustaaf J. Lankhorst, Lex M. Bouter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: To describe the methods of treatment applied by physiotherapists, occupational therapists, rehabilitation physicians, nursing-home physicians and neurologists for hemiplegic shoulder pain, and to investigate their beliefs about the effectiveness of triamcinolone acetonide injections for this diagnosis. Design: Postal questionnaire with structured and open-ended questions. If necessary, a written reminder was sent after 2-3 weeks. Subjects: One hundred physiotherapists, 100 occupational therapists, 100 rehabilitation physicians, 100 nursing-home physicians and 100 neurologists in the Netherlands. These healthcare workers were all active in the rehabilitation of stroke patients. Results: The response was 351 (70.2), ranging from 58 (neurologists) to 83 (physiotherapists). Fifty-four different (combinations of) treatments were mentioned and were classified into eight treatment groups. The frequency of the first choice of treatment was: physiotherapy (32), prevention/instruction/education (22), oral medication (8), local injection (7), sling (4), referral (3), other therapies (4), and different combinations (20). In total, 86 respondents had applied local injections: 70 rehabilitation physicians, 10 nursing-home physicians and 6 neurologists. The injections used were: corticosteroids alone (51.2), in combination with a local anaesthetic (37.2) or a local anaesthetic only (9.3). Belief in the effectiveness of triamcinolone injections, measured on a 0-100 point scale, was: physiotherapists median 62.5 (IQR 29.75-71.75), occupational therapists median 50.0 (IQR 43.0-63.0), rehabilitation physicians median 70.0 (IQR 56.5-80.0), nursing-home physicians median 35.0 (IQR 21.0-64.5), neurologists median 47.0 (IQR 20.0-63.0). Conclusions: As preventive measures and physiotherapy, or a combination of both, were found to be the favourite methods of treatment for hemiplegic shoulder pain in this survey, it seems that most physicians and therapists rely on a mechanical approach to hemiplegic shoulder pain. Rehabilitation physicians used additional local (anti-inflammatory) injections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-27
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Rehabilitation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2000

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