Suprascapular nerve injury: A cause to consider in shoulder pain and dysfunction

J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil. 2016 May 13. doi: 10.3233/BMR-160711. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Suprascapular nerve injury is increasingly being recognized as an important cause of shoulder dysfunction. The non-specific clinical features of suprascapular nerve injury can make diagnosis difficult. However, it is essential for clinicians to consider it as part of the differential diagnoses in patients with vague pain or sensory disturbances over the posterosuperior part of their shoulder or have unexplained atrophy and weakness of their supraspinatus or infraspinatus muscle. Electrodiagnostic studies are useful in confirming and localising the nerve injury, while MRIs can be employed to determine the cause of nerve injury and assess the integrity of the rotator cuff muscles. Isolated suprascapular nerve injury can be managed with a trial of conservative management for at least 6 months. Subsequently, decompression of the nerve through open or arthroscopic techniques can be considered - both are associated with high rates of pain relief and functional improvement.

Keywords: Suprascapular nerve injury; nerve decompression; neuropathy; shoulder dysfunction.