Upper Extremity Overuse Injuries and Obesity After Spinal Cord Injury

Jose R. Vives Alvarado, Elizabeth R. Felix, David R. Gater

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Persons with spinal cord injury (SCI) are at high risk for developing neurogenic obesity due to muscle paralysis and obligatory sarcopenia, sympathetic blunting, anabolic deficiency, and blunted satiety. Persons with SCI are also at high risk for shoulder, elbow, wrist, and hand injuries, including neuromusculoskeletal pathologies and nociceptive pain, as human upper extremities are poorly designed to facilitate chronic weight-bearing activities, including manual wheelchair propulsion, transfers, self-care, and day-to-day activities. This article reviews current literature on the relationship between obesity and increased body weight with upper extremity overuse injuries, detailing pathology at the shoulders, elbows, and wrists that elicit pain and functional decline and stressing the importance of weight management to preserve function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-74
Number of pages7
JournalTopics in Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • elbow pain
  • obesity
  • overuse
  • shoulder pain
  • spinal cord injury
  • upper extremity
  • wrist pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Clinical Neurology


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