Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ

Question:

I injured my left shoulder in a hang gliding accident. It's odd, but I feel as if my right shoulder is affected by my left shoulder problems. Is this possible? The right shoulder just doesn't seem to move as smoothly as before the accident.

Answer:

Of course it's possible some minor damage occurred in the right shoulder at the time of the accident. Perhaps an injury is present but undiagnosed. Be sure and ask your doctor to check this for you.

It is possible that you are experiencing a change in the joint position sense. This is the ability of the joint to tell where it is in relation to the body. It's called proprioception. Proprioception also tells the joint where it is as it moves.

Proprioception is regulated centrally by the nervous system. If one side is injured, the other side is also affected. Usually patients aren't aware of any difference, but testing reveals the change.

A recent study from Germany suggests the shoulder is able to regain its own sense of joint position after surgery to repair the injury. In fact, even the proprioception in the uninjured arm improves. Researchers aren't sure why this happens, but future studies are planned.

Wolfgang Pötzl, MD, et al. Proprioception of the Shoulder Joint after Surgical Repair for Instability: A Long-term Follow-up Study. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. January/February 2004. Vol. 32. No. 1. Pp. 425-430.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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