The Role of Suprascapular Neuropathy in Rotator Cuff Dysfunction

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Suprascapular neuropathy (SN) is caused by traction or compression injury producing clinical manifestations of pain, weakness, and muscle atrophy. Its diagnosis has long been complicated by the combination of these relatively vague clinical presentations in the setting of other shoulder comorbidities. Current etiologies associated with this condition include anatomic variants, space-occupying lesions, and retracted rotator cuff tears. Patients with clinical examination findings consistent with SN should be evaluated with standard plain film imaging, magnetic resonance imaging, and electrodiagnostic studies if warranted. These electrodiagnostic studies include electromyography and nerve conduction velocity studies which are considered the gold standard for definitive diagnosis. Treatment of SN is largely determined by the source of the neuropathy. Both nonoperative and operative interventions currently exist with varying opinions regarding the optimal management of these patients. This review will describe the current understanding of the anatomy, etiology, clinical presentation, diagnostic workup, and treatment options for patients presenting with SN.

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