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Five patients with entrapment of the suprascapular nerve treated in a 7 year period (2000–2006) were reviewed. There were 4 males and 1 female with an average age of 35 years (15–59). The patients presented with non-specfic pain around the scapula and shoulder. Four of the patients had marked wasting and weakness of the supraspinatus and infraspinatus muscles. One patient had congenital non-union of the clavicles. One patient was a competitive pole vaulter but there was no apparent aetiological factor in the other 3.

The diagnosis was confirmed with nerve conduction studies in all the patients. All underwent MRI scan which was normal in 4 patients and showed a cyst in the spinoglenoid notch in the 5th. Four patients had an open release of the suprascapular nerve, the patients whose MRI showed a cyst was found at surgery to have an abnormal vessel compressing the nerve. One patient had an arthroscopic release of the suprascapular nerve.

Four patients were available for follow-up. The follow-up averaged 22 months (6–58). All patients had complete relief of pain and almost complete recovery of strength.

In conclusion, the diagnosis of suprascapular nerve entrapment must be entertained when patients present with non-specific periscapular pain and wasting of the supraspnatus and infraspinatus muscles. MRI must be done to rule out cysts. Surgical release is successful and can be done arthroscopically.

Correspondence should be addressed to: Léana Fourie, CEO SAOA, PO Box 12918, Brandhof 9324 South Africa.