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Rehabilitation Exercises for a Spinal Accessory Nerve Injury

author image Barbara Dunlap
Barbara Dunlap is a freelance writer in Oregon. She was a garden editor at "The San Francisco Chronicle" and she currently specializes in travel and active lifestyle topics like golf and fitness. She received a master's degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia and has been a Knight Foundation Fellow.
Rehabilitation Exercises for a Spinal Accessory Nerve Injury
Woman exercising with dumbbells. Photo Credit: Milan Markovic/iStock/Getty Images

The spinal accessory nerve is located in the back of your upper shoulder, according to the Mayo Clinic. When the nerve is injured, it can cause pain and can greatly reduce the range of motion in that shoulder. Injury usually results from trauma or surgical complications, but excessive pressure during a massage also can be a culprit.

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Shoulder Shrugs

Shoulder shrugs can strengthen the injured area, according to the University of Missouri. Stand with your legs hip-distance apart. Shrug your shoulders up and lower them down as far as you comfortably can. Do a total of 10 repetitions. As you progress, hold weights in your hands as you do this exercise.

Supine Shoulder Rotation

Use a bed or mat for another strengthening exercise recommended by the University of Missouri. Lie on your back and bend your elbows. Your upper arms should be at your sides horizontal to the ground and your lower arms in the air perpendicular to the ground . Slowly bring your hands down to the mat or bed and back up in the air. Do a total of 10 repetitions.

Shoulder Elevation With Wand

The American Physical Therapy Association suggests this exercise that involves using a cane or dowel. Lie on your back holding the cane or dowel with your hands resting on your upper legs. Your hands should be about 18 inches apart, and your palms should be facing up. Slowly lift your arms as far over your head as is comfortable, leading with the uninjured arm. Hold for five seconds and return to your original position. Do a total of five repetitions.

Wall Slide

The APTA also recommends a standing exercise to rehabilitate a spinal accessory nerve injury. Stand close to a wall, facing it. Slide your injured arm up the wall with your palm facing away from you. Keep sliding your hand until you feel a stretch and hold the position for five seconds. Slowly drop your arm and do a total of five repetitions.

Wall Press

Stand facing a wall for this strengthening exercise suggested by the University of Missouri. You should be 2 to 3 feet away from the wall. Put your hands on the wall at shoulder level and press against it. As you do this, squeeze your shoulder blades together and then separate them. Return to your starting position. Do a total of 10 repetitions.

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