The suprascapular nerve, due to its superficial location in the supraspinous fossa, is readily accessible nerve and safe to block. The suprascapular nerve block has been utilized for a number of years to address various causes of shoulder pain. Early advocates of the SSNB reported its usefulness in treating shoulder pain secondary to rotator cuff degenerative tears. Subsequent studies expanded its indications to include conditions such as glenohumeral degenerative joint disease, adhesive capsulitis, and postoperative shoulder pain following arthroscopic surgery.

SUPRASCAPULAR NERVE ABLATION

Patients who get temporary relief from suprascapular nerve block may be suitable for suprascapular nerve ablation (pulsed radiofrequency treatment). This is likely to provide longer-term pain relief.

The procedure is done on an outpatient basis. The procedure is performed under ultrasound guidance to ensure the accuracy of needle placement. Specialized equipment including radiofrequency machine, probe, and RF needle is utilized to heat the nerve up to a temperature of 42°C. Generally local anaesthetic is injected around the nerve following nerve ablation. The local anaesthetic is responsible for immediate pain relief, whereas pulsed radiofrequency takes 4 to 6 weeks to provided sustained pain relief. Pain relief from pulsed radiofrequency ablation of the suprascapular nerve can last between 6 months to 24 months.