Suprascapular nerve palsy has been frequently reported in athletes, particularly baseball pitchers, volleyball players, and weight lifters, but it is easily overlooked during the evaluation of shoulder pain. Entrapment of the suprascapular nerve is usually suspected only after atrophy is noted. The presence of painless weakness of the external rotator muscles should alert the clinician to the presence of nerve damage, which can be confirmed by electromyography. This case study demonstrates the usefulness of isokinetic testing and magnetic resonance imaging in identifying cystic lesions causing neuropathy among athletes who have failed conservative treatment for shoulder pain.
Rick W. Wilson is with Biomedical Sciences Corps, United States Air Force, and the Graduate Program in Sports Medicine, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22903.