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Suprascapular Nerve Injury - Do you have it?

Article by: Dana P. Piasecki 2009. Michael Salata.


Suprascapular nerve injury is a common injury in overhead athletes as well as students carrying back packs. The suprascapular nerve along the back of the shoulder can get stretched or compressed enough to cause serious damage, with the result being shoulder pain and loss of function.



For athletes who depend on the muscles supplied by that nerve, such a problem can be very disabling. Overhead athletes with traumatic shoulder injuries, especially severe rotator cuff tears seem to be affected most often.


Additionally, patients with compressive lesions such as paralabral or supraglenoid cysts may also demonstrate a suprascapular neuropathy. Most patients present with a progressive dull, burning, and/or aching type pain in the posterolateral shoulder. Pain is frequently worsened with cross-body adduction, overhead movements and internal rotation.



Non-operative management of suprascapular nerve palsy is the initial treatment. Patients should discontinue repetitive or aggravating overhead shoulder activity and begin a physical therapy program consisting of rotator cuff and deltoid stretching and strengthening with scapular stabilization exercises.


Patients often automatically compensate for loss nerve function by using other nearby muscles to achieve motion previously provided by the affected infraspinatus and/or supraspinatus muscle. These persistent problems are reported in up to half of all cases. Fortunately, most are mild cases with significant pain relief making the surgery worth it.


(Photo: In-serivce led by ACU Student Antionette)


If you are experiencing any injuries call us at 9793 3119 or visit www.bankstownphysiotherapy.com.au

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