Shoulder Double Crush Syndrome: A Retrospective Study of Patients With Concomitant Suprascapular Neuropathy and Cervical Radiculopathy

Clin Med Insights Arthritis Musculoskelet Disord. 2020 Jun 22;13:1179544120921854. doi: 10.1177/1179544120921854. eCollection 2020.


Purpose: While the double crush phenomena (compression along two points on a nerve) has been established between median neuropathy and cervical radiculopathy, combined suprascapular neuropathy (SSN) and cervical C5/C6 radiculopathy-so-called shoulder double crush syndrome-has not been well examined. We aim to identify the incidence of shoulder double crush syndrome in patients undergoing arthroscopic suprascapular nerve release for SSN.

Methods: One hundred consecutive patients >18 years of age who were positive for SSN on electromyography and motor nerve conduction studies (EMG/NCS) and underwent a suprascapular nerve release were included. Patients with evidence of shoulder double crush syndrome were identified based on x ray, cervical spine magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and examination findings. Demographics, electrodiagnostics results, treatment courses, and clinical outcomes (visual analog scores and rotator cuff strength) following arthroscopic suprascapular nerve release were compared between patients with double crush syndrome versus isolated SSN.

Results: Thirty one percent of patients had evidence of shoulder crush syndrome. Two significant electrophysiologic differences were noted in shoulder double crush patients compared to isolated SSN patients. Patients with double crush had an increased incidence of median neuropathy (51% vs 30%, P = .04). Double crush patients had less supraspinatus motor amplitude difference between the affected side and non-affected side compared to isolated SSN patients (2.62 mV vs 3.44 mV, P = .03). In general, most double crush patients were treated conservatively with regard to their cervical spine pathology.

Conclusion: A significant percentage of patients with SSN have evidence of shoulder double crush syndrome. Patients with SSN and concomitant median neuropathy should have a detailed neck examination performed.

Keywords: Suprascapular neuropathy; carpal tunnel syndrome; cervical foraminal stenosis; cervical radiculopathy; double crush; median neuropathy.