II. Anatomy

  1. Long Thoracic Nerve forms from C5-7 nerve roots at the middle scalene Muscle

III. Causes

  1. Direct blow to Shoulder
  2. Direct blow to pectoralis Muscle at rib 4-5 at nerve exit site
  3. Chronic repetitive overhead Shoulder traction (e.g. tennis, volleyball, swimming, baseball)
  4. Traction injury at the middle scalene Muscle
  5. Radical Mastectomy

IV. Symptoms

  1. Diffuse Shoulder or Neck Pain with overhead activity

V. Signs

  1. Forward flexion weakness at Shoulder
  2. Scapular Winging

VI. Diagnostics

  1. Nerve Conduction Studies and EMG
  2. Shoulder MRI
    1. Not typically indicated but may show supraspinatus and infraspinatus denervation changes

VII. Management

  1. Shoulder Range of Motion Exercises
    1. Prevents Frozen Shoulder and contractures
  2. Strengthen remaining Shoulder stabilizing Muscles
    1. Trapezius Muscles
    2. Rhomboid Muscles
    3. Levator ScapulaMuscle
  3. Surgery is rarely indicated
    1. Consider surgery for Penetrating Trauma with nerve transection
    2. Consider surgery for lack of improvement at 18 to 24 months

VIII. Course

  1. Therapy leads to recovery times typically of 9-12 months (may require up to 2 years)

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