Suprascapular Nerve Palsy or Rotator Cuff Tear?

Suprascapular Nerve Palsy or Rotator Cuff Tear?

Written by Jacqueline Joyce

When people develop shoulder pain and mobility issues, they may immediately think of a rotator cuff tear. However, this is not always the case. Suprascapular Nerve Palsy is a condition that presents extraordinarily similar symptoms to a rotator cuff tear. Fortunately, our team at New York Sports Medicine Institute is well versed and can provide you with insight into differentiating and treating both injuries. 

What is Suprascapular Nerve Palsy?

Suprascapular Nerve Palsy is a condition that may cause shoulder pain, weakness, and difficulty with mobility. This can occur in a number of ways, two of the most common are entrapment of the nerve or trauma. Nerve entrapment is when a nerve becomes compressed and restricted. Trumas such as a fractured scapula (shoulder bone), rotator cuff tear, or repetitive motions from sports can all cause the nerve to become compressed as well.  Physicians can check for any nerve damage and assess pain through Spurling’s test, a neck compression test. The test is aimed at provoking and evaluating symptoms through compressing the nerve. 

What is a Rotator Cuff Tear?

The Rotator Cuff is the group of tendons and muscles surrounding the shoulder joint which play a crucial role in mobility. A tear in one of these tissues can cause shoulder pain and weakness, especially during movement. Patients may also experience difficulty raising their arms and lifting objects. 

Why does Suprascapular Nerve Palsy present similar symptoms to a Rotator Cuff Tear? 

If the Suprascapular Nerve becomes disrupted, then the muscles it supplies can become weakened. There are two muscles supplied by the Suprascapular nerve, both of which are a part of the rotator cuff and assist with shoulder movements. Shoulder weakness and pain with movement can occur, just as if the rotator cuff was torn. Patients may also present with a reduced range of motion and have difficulty bringing their arms up above their sides and behind their back. It is not uncommon for Suprascapular Nerve Palsy to present similar symptoms to a rotator cuff tear. 

Contact our team at NYSMI

At New York Sports Medicine Institute, we understand that dealing with Suprascapular Nerve Palsy or a Rotator Cuff Tear can be difficult. Our team at NYSMI can help and you should not hesitate to seek treatment if you present with any of the above symptoms. Contact us today to learn more!