Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Is the shoulder stiff?

One of the common ways shoulder arthritis presents itself is with stiffness of the shoulder, that is a lack of the normal range of motion. We like to be able to measure the range of motion in a standardized way so we can determine the severity of the stiffness as well as the progress with treatment. There are several motions that are important. We'll illustrate each with a figure drawn by my colleague Steve Lippitt who practices in Akron, Ohio.

I. Internal and external rotation with the arm at the side (measured in terms of degrees from vertical)

II. Forward elevation (measured in terms of degrees from the horizontal)


III. Internal rotation up the back (measured in terms of the part of the back that can be reached with the thumb).


IV. Cross-body reach (measured as the distance from the elbow to the opposite shoulder).

V. Internal rotation with the arm out to the side (measured as degrees from the vertical).


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