Shoulder Pain Tests & Imaging
We use advanced diagnostic tools to get to the source of your shoulder pain. Tests to pinpoint the cause of your pain may include:
- X-rays: An X-ray is a quick imaging procedure that takes pictures of your bones. This test can help doctors see whether an injury in your shoulder bones is what’s causing your shoulder pain.
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan: A computerized tomography (CT) scan uses X-rays and computer imaging to create cross-section, or slice,” images of your body. The test gives doctors different views of the same part of the body, providing more detailed information than regular X-rays.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): This type of scan uses radio waves and magnets to create detailed images of your bones and connective tissues. An MRI can provide more detail for diagnosing soft tissue injuries.
- MRI arthrogram: An MRI arthrogram is a two-step imaging test that provides especially detailed images of your joints. For this test, a radiologist first injects a special contrast dye into your shoulder before taking an MRI.
Find out more about orthopedic diagnosis.
Treating Shoulder Pain
Doctors use a variety of techniques to treat shoulder pain. Our orthopedic and sports medicine experts start with the least invasive treatment methods, only moving to more invasive treatments if absolutely necessary.
Depending on your specific injury, your doctor may recommend:
- Medication: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen (Advil®) and naproxen (Aleve®), can help with shoulder pain and swelling.
- Physical therapy: Specific exercises can help you improve strength, flexibility and control of your shoulder muscles. In many cases, physical therapy alone can be enough to resolve shoulder pain.
- Holistic medicine: We offer a wide range of integrative medicine treatments for shoulder pain, including acupuncture, massage therapy and chiropractic care.
- Injections: Certain conditions that cause shoulder pain may benefit from occasional cortisone injections, which relieve swelling. Learn more about injections for joint pain.
- Shoulder surgery: Some injuries and conditions require surgery. Our orthopedists specialize in minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery for many types of shoulder pain. This type of surgery requires just a few small incisions, speeding up recovery and leading to less scarring. Learn more about shoulder surgery.