Suprascapular Neuropathy Follow-up

Updated: Oct 11, 2018
  • Author: Thomas H Trojian, MD; Chief Editor: Sherwin SW Ho, MD  more...
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Follow-up

Return to Play

Most individuals with suprascapular neuropathy are asymptomatic and compete with little to no discernible performance deficit. This observation complicates the issue of how to handle the return-to-play decision in an athlete who is asymptomatic and whose physical examination incidentally reveals suprascapular neuropathy.

In practical terms, elite athletes (in whom the prevalence is highest) can probably continue to compete while they are concurrently participating in a rehabilitation program. However, to minimize the progression of the condition, the extent to which the athlete performs overhead skills during practice should be limited.

In symptomatic athletes, a more restrictive course seems reasonable. Once the athlete can perform sport-specific skills (eg, spiking and blocking in volleyball) in a pain-free manner, he or she can return to play. Athletes who undergo surgical decompression should participate in an appropriate postoperative rehabilitation program to restore their strength, flexibility, and endurance before returning to play.

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Prevention

Ferretti proposed that suprascapular neuropathy in volleyball players is related to performance of the floater serve. If so, the incidence of volleyball shoulder is expected to decrease because, with the advent of the jump serve or spike serve, the floater serve has become less popular.

To the author's knowledge, no definitive study findings implicate specific spiking styles in suprascapular neuropathy; thus, providing technical advice about biomechanics to volleyball athletes with suprascapular neuropathy is difficult. Additional considerations remain unanswered; for example, the duration and magnitude of the load that is sufficient to precipitate volleyball shoulder through chronic overuse is unknown. Furthermore, the extent to which a SICK scapula is associated with the incidence of suprascapular neuropathy deserves further investigation.

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Prognosis

As discussed earlier, the prognosis for a favorable clinical outcome is good. At the time of diagnosis, affected athletes report surprisingly little functional limitation. According to the literature, most cases respond favorably to either conservative treatment programs or, when indicated, surgical intervention. Furthermore, most athletes were able to return to their previous level of sports participation following therapeutic intervention.

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