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Use of cane causing shoulder weakness?
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Location: Raleigh, NC
Registered: 10-02-2010
Posts: 35
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I've noticed appreciable weakness lately in my right shoulder to the point of having difficulty raising my right arm to wash my hair, brush my teeth, etc. (I am right-handed). My right hand, however, remains much stronger than my left. It occurred to me it may be from the exertion my right shoulder takes in my using a cane. I'm afraid I may have accelerated some atrophy in my right shoulder/bicep. I DO use my wheelchair but have been purposely trying to stay active with a cane as long as possible. Is it time to retire the cane or is there something else it could be?
Registered: 08-02-2009
Posts: 206
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Hi Mike,

Your question is a good one for a doctor or physical therapist, which I am not, but I'll give my two cents' worth.

First, the exercise to your right arm/shoulder should be maintaining the strength, not weakening it. Usually men with KD feel better with moderate exercise. (By 'moderate,' I mean exercise NOT to the point of pain or soreness, either during the exercise or the next day.)

However, as we become weaker, both exercise and daily activities put more strain on our connective tissues, such as tendons. About a year ago, I was lifting something and strained the bicep tendon in my left arm, resulting in tendinosis or tedonitis. It was quite tender, and moderately painful whenever I used the arm, for about two months. I finally learned the solution was to rest the arm (in a sling) until the inflammation went away completely; after that it felt better, and now it's pretty much back to normal.

So, one possible guess is that you might have caused tendinosis or tendonitis in your shoulder by putting too much weight on the cane side. If you have a small but sharp pain whenever using the shoulder, that could be a tendon issue. On the other hand, if your shoulder is just weak but not painful when used, then it's probably not a tendon issue.

I recommend talking to your doctor or physical therapist to get a correct diagnosis.
Location: Raleigh, NC
Registered: 10-02-2010
Posts: 35
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Thanks, Dan. Definitely no pain or discomfort, just weakness and muscle failure when trying to raise my arm, lift a glass, reach up for something, etc. I have an appointment with my Neurologist in a few weeks. I'll see what she has to say.
Picture of Bruce
Registered: 09-28-2005
Posts: 654
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Mike, a good question. I have found that my weakness is asymmetric. My left shoulder and arm are stronger than my right, but my right wrist, hand and fingers are stronger than my left. Of course, this causes all kinds of problems. Have you been fitted for a cane by a physical therapist? The reason I ask is that for years I used a cane that I thought was the right height. It wasn't. I also found that I wasn't using the cane correctly. Both caused problems and once corrected. lift became much easier. Talk with a PT and see if he can help and keep us informed.
Location: Raleigh, NC
Registered: 10-02-2010
Posts: 35
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Thanks Bruce. I feel a little better knowing the asymmetry is not unusual. I guess I was mistaken in thinking my dominate side would always be stronger than my non-dominate side. My problem is similar in that my left hand is almost useless for grasping/holding/fine motor but my left shoulder/upper arm is NOW stronger than my right. My right hand remains very strong and precise but now having difficulty lifting my right arm for more than a few seconds doesn't do my strong hand very much good.
As far as my cane goes, I was never fitted. I just pulled it off a shelf and adjusted it to what I thought was comfortable. Thanks for the responses. As I mentioned I will be seeing my Neurologist soon and will be able to bring these things to her attention.
Registered: 01-27-2014
Posts: 22
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The most well-known reason for shoulder shortcoming are either rotator sleeve tears or shoulder damages that cause aggravation. Rotator sleeve tears reason shoulder shortcoming by modifying the mechanics of the joint.
Registered: 01-08-2013
Posts: 61
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I would treat the reduced mobility as a shoulder injury. compression, heat and assessment by a physiotherapist. use of a forearm crutch instead of a cane will alter the stresses on your shoulder and you may even be able to use it on your left side even with reduced strength in the left hand (they are much more comfortable than canes)
Registered: 02-03-2014
Posts: 1
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Hi Guys, I have had the same problems in terms of shoulder mobility. I also had the added problem of bursitis which would only add to the pain. I tried this brand called Jinni which I came across in the pharmacy. They had a range of arm sleeves which they didnt have in stock at the time. I was directed to this website: http://jinnimd.com/products/th...ression-arm-sleeves/
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