Serratus anterior paralysis in the young athlete.

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Abstract

Ten cases of isolated, complete paralysis of the serratus anterior muscle were diagnosed in young athletes during a three-year period. One patient had recurrent partial paralysis of the serratus anterior muscle, the first such case reported. From studies on cadavera and clinical observations, we concluded that paralysis of the serratus anterior muscle results from a traction injury to the long thoracic nerve of Bell. Since full recovery usually occurs in an average of nine months, surgical methods of treatment should be reserved for patients in whom function fails to return after a two-year period. Non-strenuous use of the involved extremity with avoidance of the precipitating activity, followed by exercises designed to maintain the range of motion of the shoulder and to increase the strength of associated muscles, is advocated for treatment of acute or repetitive injuries to the long thoracic nerve of Bell.

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