Levator scapulae syndrome: An anatomic-clinical study

A. Menachem, O. Kaplan, S. Dekel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Twenty-two patients, all young females, presenting with a common clinical picture of pain over the upper medial angle of the scapula were studied. The dominant shoulder was the most commonly involved (82%). Pain radiated to the neck and shoulder, but rarely to the arm. Movements that stretched the levator scapulae on the affected side aggravated symptoms. Radiographs and bone scans of the shoulders and cervical spine were negative. Increased heat emission from the upper medial angle of the affected shoulder was found on thermography in more than 60% of the patients. Anatomic dissections of 30 cadaveric shoulders showed great variability in the insertion of the levator. A bursa was found between the scapula, the serratus, and the levator in more than 50% of the shoulders. This study suggests that this syndrome, leading to bursitis and pain, may be caused by anatomic variations of the insertion of the levator scapulae and origin of the serratus anterior. This may explain the constant trigger point and crepitation as well as the increased heat emission found on thermography. Local steroid injections relieved symptoms partially in 75% of those patients who underwent treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-24
Number of pages4
JournalBulletin of the Hospital for Joint Disease (2013)
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1993


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