A 31 year old male developed unilateral neck pain associated with increased kyphotic posture 24 hours after having general anaesthesia for ankle surgery. The pain and postural adaptation resolved, but a painless shoulder dysfunction developed. Following assessment a provisional diagnosis of long thoracic nerve palsy was made, and a ‘wait and see’ approach to management was taken. The dysfunction gradually resolved over a 12 month period without further investigation or intervention. The case study is discussed in light of possible neurophysiological mechanisms involved and of published literature on the management of long thoracic nerve palsy.