Suprascapular nerve block for shoulder pain

Shoulder pain from inflammatory arthritis and/or degenerative disease is very common. Despite excellent results obtained by non surgical treatment and by orthopaedic surgery for musculoskeletal problems, there remains a group of patients with persistent shoulder pain. An alternative explanation for persistent shoulder pain is that the source of the pain can be of neural origin, resulting from the the peripheral nerves of the shoulder joint. 

Results suggest it can be immediately effective in reducing or
eliminating pain

Suprascapular nerve block has shown promise in limited clinical trials in reducing shoulder pain where other treatment has not been effective. The results suggest it can be immediately effective in reducing or eliminating pain, and although the effect will wear off, up to 12 weeks of pain relief is documented in the literature.

This service is offered at Spire Cheshire Hospital to patients under Mr Bibhas Roy’s (Consultant Shoulder Surgeon) care, and the actual procedure is performed by Dr. Narendran (Consultant Anaesthetist) and/or Dr Mark Caplan (Consultant Radiologist).

What is the procedure?

A nerve block is an injection of local anaesthetic around a nerve. The suprascapular nerve is possibly the most important of the nerves that relay the pain sensation from the shoulder joint to the pain centre in the brain.

This nerve block is undertaken as an outpatient procedure. It will not be possible to drive home afterwards, so a friend/relative needs to attend the hospital with you to take you home. Before the injection, we explain the procedure in more detail and ask you some questions about the level of your pain and disability in your shoulder. You will also be asked to sign a consent form indicating you wish to proceed with the injection. 

Patients are typically expected to stay at the hospital for 30-45 mins. The procedure is relatively painless and a fine needle is used for the injection with ultrasound guidance to help identify the correct injection site.  

Two injections are necessary as part of the procedure:

  1. A local anaesthetic injection to numb your skin. 
  2. Injecting the local anaesthetic specifically around the nerve. We normally use the combination of local anaesthetic and steroids. Once the injection is completed you will be expected to stay in the hospital for 10-15minutes before going home.

Post procedure advice:

After the procedure, we expect you to feel rapid pain relief within a few minutes. At this stage, we will record your level of pain and compare it to the pre-procedure level.

It is recommended that you continue any physiotherapy programme that has already been initiated and return to clinic in a few weeks to see Mr Roy for further management of your shoulder problem.

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Consultant Shoulder Surgeon
Mr Bibhas Roy

Click here to visit the profile page of Mr Bibhas Roy

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