The suprascapular nerve arises from the upper trunk of the brachial plexus and travels with the suprascapular artery across the posterior triangle of the neck (Fig 1).

The artery and nerve dip under the trapezius and pass through the suprascapular notch on the superior border of the scapula. The nerve then passes through the suprascapular fossa, supplying supraspinatus muscles before tracing along the base of the spine of the scapula to supply the infraspinatus muscle. This nerve also supplies sensation to the posterior aspect of the shoulder joint.

The suprascapular ligament crosses the upper margin of the suprascapular notch and can cause entrapment of the suprascapular nerve, particularly if the notch is tight.

Compression of the sensory fibres causes an ill-localised, dull shoulder pain.

Athletes, especially those involved with shoulder movement, such as gymnasts, weightlifters and basketball players, are particularly at risk.