Suprascapular Neuropathy

Suprascapular neuropathy usually occurs as a result of traction damage to the suprascapular nerve, causing an aching or burning pain at the back and or side of the shoulder joint. Here we explain the symptoms, causes and treatment.

Suprascapular neuropathy symptoms

  • Aching or burning pain will be felt at the back and or side of the shoulder joint.
  • The pain will come on gradually and feel like it is deep within the shoulder joint and may radiate through the arm.
  • Weakness of the shoulder joint will be experienced by the patient when lifting the arm out to the side and rotating it outwards.
  • Over time there may be a visible wasting of the supraspinatus and infraspinatus muscles.

What is Suprascapular neuropathy?

Suprascapular neuropathy

Suprascapular neuropathy usually occurs as a result of traction damage to the Suprascapular nerve. This nerve arises from the upper part of the brachial plexus (a large number of nerves where they exit the spine at the base of the neck) and travels down under the trapezius to the scapular. Here it connects to the Supraspinatus and Infraspinatus muscles.


Damage to this nerve is common in sports involving overhead movements such as tennis, cricket, and volleyball. Injury can be a result of compression, traction or direct trauma to the nerve. Improper movement patterns of the scapula can also cause stretching of the nerve. The growth of cysts resulting from superior glenoid labral tears may also compress the nerve.

Treatment of suprascapular neuropathy

Rest from aggravating activities. See a sports injury professional or Doctor who can diagnose your injury with the use of an MRI scan. A sports injury practitioner can advise on rotator cuff strengthening exercises and re-educate correct movement patterns of the scapula. If conservative treatment fails, subacromial injections or surgery to remove cysts or release the nerve may be required.

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