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Michael Olson
Dawn Carlson


Chiropractic, Aphonia, Neuropraxia


Objective: To describe the management and treatment of iatrogenic left-sided vocal cord paralysis caused during shoulder arthroscopy. This resulted from left-sided recurrent laryngeal nerve entrapment.

Clinical Features: A 55-year-old woman underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair a right torn rotator cuff. General anesthesia and an interscalene block were used to sedate her. She was placed in the beach-chair position for her surgery. She awoke with an inability to speak. She was diagnosed with left-sided vocal cord paralysis resulting in aphonia.

Intervention and Outcome: Over the course of 2.5 months, she received 10 multimodal chiropractic treatments with the goal of resolving the vocal cord paralysis. The treatment was aimed at resolving the left recurrent laryngeal nerve entrapment to restore vocal cord function. Following treatment, she regained full vocal cord function.

Conclusion: Neurapraxia following shoulder arthroscopy is a documented side effect.  Neurapraxic injuries can stem from general anesthesia and patient positioning. This case demonstrates as case of neurapraxic injury to like the RLN following shoulder arthroscopy.  Although a common complication, there is little information discussing chiropractic care for it.


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