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Advances in Orthopedics
Volume 2012, Article ID 516985, 6 pages
Review Article

Suprascapular Nerve: Is It Important in Cuff Pathology?

1Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, The University of Chicago Hospitals, 5841 South Maryland Avenue, MC 3079, Chicago, IL 60637, USA
2Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, Medical Center Boulevard, P.O. Box 1070, Winston-Salem, NC 27157-1070, USA
3Division of Shoulder Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, Yawkey Center 3G, 55 Fruit Street, Boston, MA 02114, USA

Received 11 August 2012; Accepted 8 October 2012

Academic Editor: Reuben Gobezie

Copyright © 2012 Lewis L. Shi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Suprascapular nerve and rotator cuff function are intimately connected. The incidence of suprascapular neuropathy has been increasing due to improved understanding of the disease entity and detection methods. The nerve dysfunction often results from a traction injury or compression, and a common cause is increased tension on the nerve from retracted rotator cuff tears. Suprascapular neuropathy should be considered as a diagnosis if patients exhibit posterosuperior shoulder pain, atrophy or weakness of supraspinatus and infraspinatus without rotator cuff tear, or massive rotator cuff with retraction. Magnetic resonance imaging and electromyography studies are indicated to evaluate the rotator cuff and function of the nerve. Fluoroscopically guided injections to the suprascapular notch can also be considered as a diagnostic option. Nonoperative treatment of suprascapular neuropathy can be successful, but in the recent decade there is increasing evidence espousing the success of surgical treatment, in particular arthroscopic suprascapular nerve decompression. There is often reliable improvement in shoulder pain, but muscle atrophy recovery is less predictable. More clinical data are needed to determine the role of rotator cuff repair and nerve decompression in the same setting.