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Case report

A case of dorsal scapular neuropathy in a young amateur boxer

Tony Farrell, Muiris Kennedy and Conor O'Brien
From the Orthopaedic Department, Midlands Regional Hospital, Tullamore, Ireland. E-mail: Anthony.farrell@ucdconnect.ie

DOI: 10.2340/20030711-1000002

Abstract

Neuropathies of the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint are a well-documented cause of pain and weakness in sports people. Repetitive or excessive traction on the nerve supplying the affected muscle is believed to be the primary mechanism. We describe a case of this phenomenon in a young amateur boxer which has never been described in the literature previously. We document our hypothesis on the mechanism of injury as well as a successful treatment strategy we employed. This paper is designed to highlight shoulder pain with associated winging of the scapula should make one wary of a dorsal scapular neuropathy particularly in a sports person who utilises repetitive forceful actions.

Lay Abstract

Continuous and repetitive stressful motion has been shown to damage nerves over a period of time. This is particularly common in sports that involve a lot of overhead activity such as baseball and volleyball. Continuous stretching of the nerve results in reduced signals sent to its target muscle. This will eventually cause the muscle to waste away and the patient will begin to experience pain and dysfunction. We describe a case of this phenomenon in a young amateur boxer. We detail the probable mechanism of this injury and steps that we took to remedy the problem. At the time of writing there is no other documented case of dorsal scapular neuropathy in this sporting population but it is something clinicians should bear in mind when dealing with athletes with repetitive, forceful shoulder movements.

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