Objective: To explore relationships between shoulder complaints after neck dissection, shoulder disability, and quality of life. To find clinical predictors for mid- to long-term shoulder disability. Study Design: Prospective. Patients and Methods: Shoulder pain, shoulder mobility, and shoulder droop, as well as scores on shoulder disability questionnaire and RAND-36 (quality of life), were measured at baseline, discharge (T1), and 4 months postoperatively (T2) on 139 patients admitted for neck dissection to major head and neck centers in the Netherlands. Results: Shoulder mobility was significantly decreased at T1 and did not improve. Significant relationships between shoulder function, shoulder disability score, and RAND-36 domains were found. Two clusters of clinical symptoms could be identified as independent predictors for shoulder disability. Conclusions: Objective deterioration in shoulder function after neck dissection is associated with perceived shoulder disability and related to physical functioning and bodily pain. Predictors for shoulder disability can be found.
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