Suprascapular Nerve Block


What is a Suprascapular Nerve Block?

  • The suprascapular nerve is located at the back of the shoulder blade (known as the scapula). This nerve supplies the shoulder joint and 2 of the rotator cuff muscles.
  • The nerve may become compressed for a number of reasons, such as wearing heavy bags over the shoulder or direct injury.
  • A suprascapular nerve block involves the injection of local anaesthetic and steroid onto the suprascapular nerve.
  • The steroid reduces inflammation, irritation and swelling around the suprascapular nerve.
  • The procedure may be performed diagnostically to evaluate shoulder girdle and shoulder joint pain.
  • This procedure is always performed using the X-ray machine in the day surgery. 


Prior to the Procedure

  • All blood thinning products (except aspirin) must be stopped prior to your procedure. You will be advised by letter when to stop taking these medications at the time that your admission date is arranged.
  • You are able to take your other regular medications with a sip of water on the morning of your procedure.
  • If you are an insulin dependent diabetic you will always be at the beginning of the list. Please bring your insulin with you and it will be given to you following your procedure.
  • Hamilton Day Surgery Centre staff will advise you of your fasting and admission times.
  • You must not have anything to eat, drink, smoke or chew prior to your procedure.
  • You will need to organise someone to drive you home after the procedure as you will not be able to drive for 24 hours after your procedure.


What Will Happen?

  1. You will be admitted to the day surgery by a nurse and you will be asked to change into a gown.
  2. The anaesthetist will speak with you and place a cannula (plastic needle) into a vein in your hand.
  3. In the procedure room, you will be assisted to position on the procedure table on your abdomen with a pillow under your shoulders.
  4. The anaesthetist will give you some sedation into your vein.
  5. An X-ray machine will be used to determine where the doctor will place the needle for your procedure. 
    • The procedure will take approximately 10 minutes to complete.
  6. Steroid and local anaesthetic will be injected once correct placement has been established with use of X-ray contrast (Omnipaque).
  7. After the procedure, you will be placed on a trolley and taken to recovery, where you will remain for approximately 1 hour.
  8. After having something to eat and drink, you will be discharged with a carer.


Post Procedure

  • Gentle activity and rest is recommended in the first 24 hours following the procedure. You may then return to your normal activity.
  • The local anaesthetic will wear off 12 – 18 hours following your procedure.
  • The steroid will take approximately 48 hours to start working.
    • During this time there may be a window of increased discomfort or pain.
  • Caution should be taken if any arm heaviness occurs. Should this occur, ensure that you support your arm until the heaviness subsides.
    • You may need to wear a sling until the heaviness goes.
  • A nurse from HPC will telephone you 24-48 hours following your procedure to check on your progress and to organise a follow-up appointment. 
  • The steroid may remain effective for approximately 1 – 6 months, depending on amount of irritation or inflammation present. 

If you require further explanation of the procedure, please contact Hunter Pain Clinic nursing staff on (02) 4985 1800.


* Image by Henry Vandyke Carter [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons