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Arthroscopy Of The Shoulder

What's Wrong With Your Shoulder?

Last modified: 
16/03/2012 - 16:56

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

A number of conditions can cause shoulder pain. Diagnosis of shoulder pain begins with a history and a physical examination to discover:

  • The location and nature of the pain and swelling
  • Muscle strength
  • If there is any limitations of movement

Special diagnostic tests can then define the exact nature of the problem.

  • X-rays can show arthritis, a dislocation, and other problems with the bones of the shoulder.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to create a series of cross-sectional images of the joint. These images can provide a detailed map of the injury, particularly one affecting the soft tissues of the joint.

    For more information about MRI, go to MRI.

  • Arthrography is a technique in which a harmless dye is injected into the shoulder, and then x-ray images are taken. It can identify problems, particularly rotator cuff tears, as the dye passes through the tear. The dye is absorbed safely into the body. It's not as widely used anymore since MRI can clearly show a rotator cuff tear. But an MRI may be enhanced using this technique, so it is still used in selected situations.
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From Andrew Maynard - Chair of the University of Michigan Department of Environmental Health Sciences, with help from David Faulkner - 2013 Master of Public Health graduate.