Shoulder magnetic resonance imaging findings in manual wheelchair users with spinal cord injury

Omid Jahanian, Meegan G. Van Straaten, Brianna M. Goodwin, Ryan J. Lennon, Jonathan D. Barlow, Naveen S. Murthy, Melissa M.B. Morrow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Objective: To investigate the prevalence of rotator cuff and long head of the biceps pathologies in manual wheelchair (MWC) users with spinal cord injury (SCI). Design: Cross-sectional study. Setting: Outpatient clinic at a tertiary medical center. Participants: Forty-four adult MWC users with SCI (36 men and 8 women) with an average age (SD) of 42 (13) years. SCI levels ranged from C6 to L1; complete and incomplete SCI. Outcome Measures: Participants’ demographic and anthropometric information, presence of shoulder pain, Wheelchair User’s Pain Index (WUSPI) scores, and magnetic resonance imaging findings of shoulder pathologies including tendinopathy, tendon tears, and muscle atrophy. Results: Fifty-nine percent of the participants reported some shoulder pain. The prevalence of any tendinopathy across the rotator cuff and the long head of biceps tendon was 98%. The prevalence of tendinopathy in the supraspinatus was 86%, infraspinatus was 91%, subscapularis was 75%, and biceps was 57%. The majority of tendinopathies had mild or moderate severity. The prevalence of any tears was 68%. The prevalence of tendon tears in the supraspinatus was 48%, infraspinatus was 36%, subscapularis was 43%, and biceps was 12%. The majority of the tears were partial-thickness tears. Participants without tendon tears were significantly younger (P < 0.001) and had been wheelchair user for a significantly shorter time (P = 0.005) than those with tendon tears. Conclusion: Mild and moderate shoulder tendinopathy and partial-thickness tendon tears were highly prevalent in MWC users with SCI. Additionally, the findings of this study suggest that strategies for monitoring shoulder pathologies in this population should not be overly reliant on patient-reported pain, but perhaps more concerned with years of wheelchair use and age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)564-574
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Spinal Cord Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Manual wheelchair use
  • Rotator cuff disease
  • Shoulder pathology
  • Spinal cord injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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