Inability to raise arm after fall causes concern

Published 8:08 am Friday, February 19, 2010

Jeff asks: Two weeks ago I took a bad fall and landed on my right shoulder. Since then I cannot raise my right arm above a vertical plane without terrible pain. Also I can feel a click when I move it a certain way, and it feels like I have no power in it in certain positions. I was hoping it would go away but it has not gotten any better. I am partially paralyzed on my left side from a car accident, so my right arm in very important for walking and getting up from a sitting position. In other words I could not have my arm in a sling. What should I do?

Dr. Patel writes: Dear Jeff, I am a bit concerned that you have lost the ability to raise your arm.

Appreciating your situation on the left arm, I think you need to have it X-rayed.

I would want to make sure you did not sustain a fracture from the trauma. If the X-ray is negative, then depending on the physical exam, we can try physical therapy and/or an injection.

If you continue to have pain or weakness, you may need to have an MRI to make sure you did not tear your rotator cuff muscle.

I think you need to be seen sooner than later and have it examined and X-rayed.

Hope this helps.

Dr. Manish Patel has extensive training in treating shoulder, elbow and knee injuries, and performing arthroscopic surgery. He is the principal medical practitioner in the offices of Southampton Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Center, on the campus of Southampton Memorial Hospital. Submit questions about sports medicine, injuries and treatment for this column to, or call Patel at 562-7301.