MSD Manual

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Professional Version

Suprascapular Nerve Injury in Cattle


Peter D. Constable

, BVSc (Hons), MS, PhD, DACVIM, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Reviewed/Revised Apr 2023 | Modified Jun 2023

The suprascapular nerve is one of the nerves in the brachial plexus and originates from spinal cord segments C6-C7, providing motor innervation to the supraspinatus and infraspinatus muscles. Acute trauma to the prescapular area (eg, struggling into a head gate) or focal spinal cord meningitis produces a nonspecific ataxia immediately after suprascapular nerve injury. Several days after the injury, the suprasinatus and infraspinatus muscles may show signs of wasting (neurogenic atrophy), indicating the possibility of permanent damage. In rare cases, paresis or plegia may result from nerve compression in or around the vertebrae (eg, an abscess or fracture, which may be identified on radiographs).

If the trauma is complex, primary treatment must be directed toward resolving the immediate problem. However, if the clinical presentation suggests that the injury is localized to the nerve, immediate treatment with corticosteroids or other anti-inflammatory agents is appropriate.

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