Current concepts review: peripheral neuropathies of the shoulder in the young athlete

Tamara S. John, Felicity Fishman, Melinda S. Sharkey, Cordelia W. Carter

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Peripheral neuropathies of the shoulder and upper extremity are uncommon injuries that may affect the young athletic population. When present, they can result in significant pain and functional impairment. The cause of peripheral neuropathy in young athletes may be an acute, traumatic injury such as a shoulder dislocation or a direct blow to the shoulder girdle. Alternatively, repetitive overuse with resultant compression or traction of a nerve over time may also result in neuropathy; overhead athletes and throwers may be particularly susceptible to this mechanism of nerve injury. Regardless of etiology, young athletes typically present with activity-related pain, paresthesias, and dysfunction of the affected upper extremity. In addition to physical examination, diagnostic studies such as radiographs and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are commonly performed as part of an initial evaluation and electrodiagnostic studies may be used to confirm the diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy. Electrodiagnostic studies may consist of electromyography, which evaluates the electrical activity produced by skeletal muscles, and/or a nerve conduction study, which evaluates a nerve’s ability to transmit an electrical signal. Although data are not robust, clinical outcomes for young patients with activity-related peripheral neuropathies of the shoulder are generally good, with most young athletes reporting both symptomatic and functional improvement after treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-141
Number of pages11
JournalPhysician and Sportsmedicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2 2020


  • Sports medicine
  • neuropathy
  • pediatric orthopedics
  • stinger
  • winged scapula

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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