Suprascapular neuropathy is a condition of the shoulder in which the suprascapular nerve becomes compressed. Damage and instability of the shoulder joint occurs as a result of the compression. Suprascapular neuropathy is not very common but may be seen in sports with repetitive overhead activities, such as baseball, tennis, cricket and volleyball.
The suprascapular nerve may become compressed as a result of an injury and stress placed on the shoulder. Direct trauma to the suprascapular nerve, such as a fall, and disease, including tumors and cysts, may also place pressure on the nerve, resulting in compression. In rare instances, surgical procedures of the shoulders may compress the suprascapular nerve, causing this condition.
Signs and symptoms of suprascapular neuropathy may vary and include pain and weakness in the shoulder, atrophy in the upper shoulder, a feeling of heaviness in the shoulder and arm, discomfort in the shoulder and arm, and radiating pain in the neck, back or arms. This condition is diagnosed through the patient’s medical history, a physical exam and imaging studies. An MRI is the preferred option for assessing damage to the rotator cuff muscles, as well as assessing potential causes of compression to the suprascapular nerve.
Treatment options include rest, heat therapy, scapular stabilization and mobilization, anti-inflammatory medications, activity modification, strength and stretching exercises, physical therapy and subacromial injections. Surgery may be required in severe cases to remove bone, ligaments or cysts that may be placing pressure on the nerve. Surgical options also include arthroscopic decompression of the suprascapular nerve.