Background: Injury or compression in the long thoracic nerve is very common in sports and can result serious scathe to the athlete. The long thoracic nerve is purely motor and
innervates m. serratus anterior. When m. serratus anterior is paralyzed, shoulder complex may become unstable increasing the injury risk to the shoulder joint and the structures involved. The
objective of this review was to analyze the scientific evidence associated to anatomy, symptoms, incidence and treatment of injury or compression long thoracic nerve in the sport.
Methods: Medline Pubmed and Virtual Health Library BIREME were consulted using search with the words: long thoracic nerve and sport, long thoracic nerve and athletes, neurvasculares
injuries in athletes, neurovascular injuries in sports. Articles were included till December 2015. In Pubmed were meetings 36 results related to research and Bireme 6 results and all duplicate, but
only 24 articles were selected for review. Inclusion criteria: studies in humans, athletes, original and review articles about anatomy, symptoms or treatment of long thoracic nerve injury. Exclusion
criteria: research in animals, sedentary individuals, articles with high risk of bias (methodological quality below 50%), articles about the validity, reliability or standardization of techniques and
specific pathologies (Cancer).
Results:Most of paralysis of m. serratus anterior was caused by traumatic events (26%) sport and work-related (35%). Repetitive trauma is a common cause of long thoracic nerve
injuries in tennis and archery athletes (25%) and also in other sports as basketball, football, golf, artistic gymnastics and wrestling. Athletes may notice a decrease in performance during sports
activity such as speed and strength. Physical examination may find winged scapula, changes in scapular-thoracic rhythm and serratus anterior muscle atrophy in more severe cases. Furthermore, patients
with total paralysis of m. serratus anterior are unable to elevate the affected limb above 110 degrees. The damage to the long thoracic nerve, generally has a good prognosis, and conservative
treatment should be introduced initially. The surgical indications are done when symptoms persist for over 1-2 years, in spite of conservative treatment. Usually, surgical procedures do not allow the
athlete to return to their normal sports activities, but fortunately surgical treatment is rarely necessary.
Conclusions: Injury of the long thoracic causes paralysis of m. serratus anterior, increasing the risk of major damage to joints and structures involved in the shoulder complex.