Arthritis & Rheumatism, Volume 62,
November 2010 Abstract Supplement

Abstracts of the American College of
Rheumatology/Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals
Annual Scientific Meeting
Atlanta, Georgia November 6-11, 2010.

The Safety and Patient Acceptability of Suprascpular Nerve Block.

Shanahan2,  E. Michael, Shanahan2,  Kieran Ross, Hill1,  Catherine, Smith2,  Malcolm, Ahern2,  Michael John

Adelaide University, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia


Suprascapular nerve block is an effective therapy for shoulder pain from arthritis. To date however, the safety of the procedure has not been fully validated. This is because the numbers of patients in the trials to establish the efficacy of the treatment are far smaller than those required to establish its safety. Since 2003 the rheumatologists at the Repatriation General Hospital Flinders Medical Centre and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital have been regularly performing this procedure for the relief of shoulder pain.

The safety and patient satisfaction of their experience with this procedure has now been assessed.


To audit the safety and patient satisfaction of patients receiving at least one suprascapular nerve block performed by rheumatologists in South Australia between 2003 and 2009.


All nerve blocks performed between 2003–2009 were included in the study. The interventions were sourced through an electronic search of the medical records. In all, 1005 individual procedures were reviewed. Case note reviews of all the procedures were performed and each patient contacted. Case notes were audited for patient demographics, and recorded complications. Patients were surveyed for complications and also satisfaction using the Patient Satisfaction Questionnaire in Musculoskeletal Care. Supplementary questions were added to enquire specifically about satisfaction for the nerve block procedure.


1005 nerve block were performed on 293 patients (mean age 78, 75% with one or more co morbidities). 6 minor complications (presyncope, transient arm weakness and facial flushing) were reported or recorded. There were no major complications, giving a maximum significant complication rate of 0.3%. The overall response rate to the satisfaction survey was 55%. 87% of respondents were satisfied with the results of the nerve block.


Suprascapular nerve block is a safe procedure which is well tolerated by patients, even those with multiple co morbidities. Patients rate the procedure highly in terms of the ease of procedure and the pain relief that it confers.

To cite this abstract, please use the following information:
Shanahan, E. Michael, Shanahan, Kieran Ross, Hill, Catherine, Smith, Malcolm, Ahern, Michael John; The Safety and Patient Acceptability of Suprascpular Nerve Block. [abstract]. Arthritis Rheum 2010;62 Suppl 10 :177
DOI: 10.1002/art.27946

Abstract Supplement

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