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An isolated long thoracic nerve injury in a Navy Airman


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Structural and chiropractic

Mil Med.2004 Sep;169(9):713-5.


M J Oakes, D L Sherwood


A palsy of the long thoracic nerve of Bell is a cause of scapular winging that has been reported after trauma, surgery, infection, electrocution, chiropractic manipulation, exposure to toxins, and various sports-related injuries that include tennis, hockey, bowling, soccer, gymnastics, and weight lifting. Scapular winging can result from repetitive or sudden external biomechanical forces that may either exert compression or place extraordinary traction in the distribution of the long thoracic nerve. We describe an active duty Navy Airman who developed scapular winging secondary to traction to the long thoracic nerve injury while working on the flight line. A thorough history and physical is essential in determining the mechanism of injury. Treatment should initially include refraining from strenuous use of the involved extremity, avoidance of the precipitating activity, and physical therapy to focus on maintaining range of motion and strengthening associated muscles, with most cases resolving within 9 months.

Publication Date: 

2004 Sep



Oakes, JM., Sherwood, LD. (2004) 'An isolated long thoracic nerve injury in a Navy Airman', Mil Med.2004 Sep;169(9):713-5.

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