Scapular pain and supra-scapular neuropathy in sports medicine.

Ochsner F, Bonnard C, Chauplannaz G, Kuntzer T. Neurophysiol Clin 2000 Feb;30(1):21-6.

Eight patients with shoulder pain are reported with a history of athletic activities. On examination, performed with a delay of several months, all patients had painful paresis and atrophy of spinati fossa. Electroneuromyography was carried out in all cases and showed a suprascapular nerve axonal loss from the spinati muscles or infraspinatus muscle, signs of denervation-reinnervation in spinati or infraspinatus muscles, normal examination of other scapular girdle muscles, and a coordinate spinati contraction with shoulder displacement excluding rotator cuff tears. All patients had conservative treatment and only two improved. Six patients underwent surgical decompression of the suprascapular nerve; in three, motor function clearly improved, and in three others pain improved. The factors leading to entrapment include stretch mechanisms associated with shoulder movements, leading to suprascapular nerve liability to mechanical lesions. In patients with shoulder pain, the authors recommend an early electrophysiological work-up to recognize an isolated suprascapular neuropathy. The surgical decompression of the nerve should be based on persistent shoulder pain after conservative treatment.