Suprascapular Nerve Entrapment: Shoulder

  • Christopher J. BurnettEmail author
  • Helen W. Karl


The suprascapular nerve is an under-recognized cause of shoulder pain and dysfunction. A clinician who does not know of the suprascapular entrapment syndrome is unlikely to identify the nerve pathology. Repetitive movements, carrying heavy loads, and stretch injuries can cause injury to the suprascapular nerve.


Suprascapular neuralgia Suprascapular nerve entrapment Shoulder pain 

Supplementary material

Video 28.1

Physical exam of the suprascapular nerve (MOV 38715 kb)

Video 28.2

Injection technique for the suprascapular nerve (MOV 50569 kb)


  1. 1.
    Linda DD, Harish S, Stewart BG, Finlay K, Parasu N, Rebello RP. Multimodality imaging of peripheral neuropathies of the upper limb and brachial plexus. Radiographics. 2010;30(5):1373–400.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Shapiro BE, Preston DC. Entrapment and compressive neuropathies. Med Clin N Am. 2009;93(2):285–315, vii.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Kim DH, Murovic JA, Tiel RL, Kline DG. Management and outcomes of 42 surgical suprascapular nerve injuries and entrapments. Neurosurgery. 2005;57(1):120–7; discussion –7.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Blum A, Lecocq S, Louis M, Wassel J, Moisei A, Teixeira P. The nerves around the shoulder. Eur J Radiol. 2013;82(1):2–16.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Iannotti JP, Ramsey ML. Arthroscopic decompression of a ganglion cyst causing suprascapular nerve compression. Arthroscopy. 1996;12(6):739–45.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Harbaugh KS, Swenson R, Saunders RL. Shoulder numbness in a patient with suprascapular nerve entrapment syndrome: cutaneous branch of the suprascapular nerve: case report. Neurosurgery. 2000;47(6):1452–5; discussion 5–6.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Ebraheim NA, Whitehead JL, Alla SR, Moral MZ, Castillo S, McCollough AL, et al. The suprascapular nerve and its articular branch to the acromioclavicular joint: an anatomic study. J Should Elb Surg. 2011;20(2):e13–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Liveson JA, Bronson MJ, Pollack MA. Suprascapular nerve lesions at the spinoglenoid notch: report of three cases and review of the literature. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 1991;54(3):241–3.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Aiello I, Serra G, Traina GC, Tugnoli V. Entrapment of the suprascapular nerve at the spinoglenoid notch. Ann Neurol. 1982;12(3):314–6.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Budzik JF, Wavreille G, Pansini V, Moraux A, Demondion X, Cotten A. Entrapment neuropathies of the shoulder. Magn Reson Imaging Clin N Am. 2012;20(2):373–91, xii.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Rengachary SS, Burr D, Lucas S, Brackett CE. Suprascapular entrapment neuropathy: a clinical, anatomical, and comparative study. Part 3: comparative study. Neurosurgery. 1979;5(4):452–5.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Simopoulos TT, Nagda J, Aner MM. Percutaneous radiofrequency lesioning of the suprascapular nerve for the management of chronic shoulder pain: a case series. J Pain Res. 2012;5:91–7.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Natsis K, Totlis T, Tsikaras P, Appell HJ, Skandalakis P, Koebke J. Proposal for classification of the suprascapular notch: a study on 423 dried scapulas. Clin Anat. 2007;20(2):135–9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Dong Q, Jacobson JA, Jamadar DA, Gandikota G, Brandon C, Morag Y, et al. Entrapment neuropathies in the upper and lower limbs: anatomy and MRI features. Radiol Res Pract. 2012;2012:230679.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Safran MR. Nerve injury about the shoulder in athletes, part 1: suprascapular nerve and axillary nerve. Am J Sports Med. 2004;32(3):803–19.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Kopell HP, Thompson WA. Pain and the frozen shoulder. Surg Gynecol Obstet. 1959;109(1):92–6.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Ganzhorn RW, Hocker JT, Horowitz M, Switzer HE. Suprascapular-nerve entrapment. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1981;63(3):492–4.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Burbank KM, Stevenson JH, Czarnecki GR, Dorfman J. Chronic shoulder pain: part I. Evaluation and diagnosis. Am Fam Physician. 2008;77(4):453–60.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Neal S, Fields KB. Peripheral nerve entrapment and injury in the upper extremity. Am Fam Physician. 2010;81(2):147–55.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Toussaint CP, Zager EL. What’s new in common upper extremity entrapment neuropathies. Neurosurg Clin N Am. 2008;19(4):573–81, vi.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Carroll KW, Helms CA, Otte MT, Moellken SM, Fritz R. Enlarged spinoglenoid notch veins causing suprascapular nerve compression. Skelet Radiol. 2003;32(2):72–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Burbank KM, Stevenson JH, Czarnecki GR, Dorfman J. Chronic shoulder pain: part II. Treatment. Am Fam Physician. 2008;77(4):493–7.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Hoskins WT, Pollard HP, McDonald AJ. Quadrilateral space syndrome: a case study and review of the literature. Br J Sports Med. 2005;39(2):e9.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Polguj M, Synder M, Kwapisz A, Stefanczyk K, Grzelak P, Podgorshi M, et al. Clinical evaluation of the shape of the suprascapular notch—an ultrasonographic and computed tomography comparative study: application to shoulder pain syndromes. Clin Anat. 2015;28:774–9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Hill LJ, Jelsing EJ, Terry MJ, Strommen JA. Evaluation, treatment, and outcomes of suprascapular neuropathy: a 5-year review. PMR. 2014;6(9):774–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Shanahan EM, Smith MD, Wetherall M, Lott CW, Slavotinek J, FitzGerald O, et al. Suprascapular nerve block in chronic shoulder pain: are the radiologists better? Ann Rheum Dis. 2004;63(9):1035–40.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Harmon D, Hearty C. Ultrasound-guided suprascapular nerve block technique. Pain Phys. 2007;10(6):743–6.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Siegenthaler A, Moriggl B, Mlekusch S, Schliessbach J, Haug M, Curatolo M, et al. Ultrasound-guided suprascapular nerve block, description of a novel supraclavicular approach. Reg Anesth Pain Med. 2012;37(3):325–8.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Schneider-Kolsky ME, Pike J, Connell DA. CT-guided suprascapular nerve blocks: a pilot study. Skelet Radiol. 2004;33(5):277–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Trescot AM. Cryoanalgesia in interventional pain management. Pain Phys. 2003;6(3):345–60.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Gofeld M, Restrepo-Garces CE, Theodore BR, Faclier G. Pulsed radiofrequency of suprascapular nerve for chronic shoulder pain: a randomized double-blind active placebo-controlled study. Pain Pract. 2013;13(2):96–103.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Elahi F, Reddy CG. Neuromodulation of the suprascapular nerve. Pain Phys. 2014;17(6):E769–73.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Lafosse L, Tomasi A, Corbett S, Baier G, Willems K, Gobezie R. Arthroscopic release of suprascapular nerve entrapment at the suprascapular notch: technique and preliminary results. Arthroscopy. 2007;23(1):34–42.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Shah AA, Butler RB, Sung SY, Wells JH, Higgins LD, Warner JJ. Clinical outcomes of suprascapular nerve decompression. J Should Elb Surg. 2011;20(6):975–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Pain Management Division, Department of AnesthesiologyBaylor Scott and White Memorial HospitalTempleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Anesthesiology and Pain MedicineUniversity of Washington, Seattle Children’s HospitalSeattleUSA

Personalised recommendations