Arthroscopic management of suprascapular neuropathy of the shoulder improves pain and functional outcomes with minimal complication rates

Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2018 Jan;26(1):240-266. doi: 10.1007/s00167-017-4694-4. Epub 2017 Sep 6.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to systematically assess the arthroscopic management of suprascapular neuropathy, including the aetiology, surgical decision-making, clinical outcomes, and complications associated with the procedure.

Methods: Three databases [PubMed, Ovid (Medline), and Embase] were searched. Systematic literature screening and data abstraction was performed in duplicate to present a review of studies reporting on arthroscopic management of suprascapular neuropathy. The quality of the included studies was assessed using level of evidence and the MINORS (Methodological Index for Nonrandomized Studies) checklist.

Results: In total, 40 studies (17 case reports, 20 case series, 2 retrospective comparative studies, and 1 prospective comparative study) were identified, including 259 patients (261 shoulders) treated arthroscopically for suprascapular neuropathy. The most common aetiology of suprascapular neuropathy was suprascapular nerve compression by a cyst at the spinoglenoid notch (42%), and the decision to pursue arthroscopic surgery was most commonly based on the results of clinical findings and investigations (47%). Overall, 97% of patients reported significant improvement in or complete resolution of their pre-operative symptoms (including pain, strength, and subjective function of the shoulder) over a mean follow-up period of 23.7 months. Further, there was a low overall complication rate (4%) associated with the arthroscopic procedures.

Conclusion: While most studies evaluating arthroscopic management of suprascapular neuropathy are uncontrolled studies with lower levels of evidence, results indicate that such management provides patients with significant improvements in pain, strength, and subjective function of the shoulder, and has a low incidence of complications. Patients managed arthroscopically for suprascapular neuropathy may expect significant improvements in pain, strength, and subjective function of the shoulder.

Level of evidence: Level IV, systematic review of level II to IV studies.

Keywords: Arthroscopy; Neuropathy; Shoulder; Suprascapular.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthroscopy*
  • Humans
  • Nerve Compression Syndromes / complications
  • Nerve Compression Syndromes / physiopathology
  • Nerve Compression Syndromes / surgery*
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Scapula
  • Shoulder / innervation*
  • Shoulder Pain / etiology*
  • Shoulder Pain / physiopathology
  • Shoulder Pain / surgery*
  • Treatment Outcome