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Shoulder Pain Diagnosis - why a clear understanding is important.

Shoulder pain can be caused by many various factors, including injury, overuse, medical conditions, or muscle strain. Below is a list of some of the common shoulder issues that I see in the clinic. As there are many pathologies, a clear diagnosis becomes crucial to be able to construct a treatment and rehab plan.

Take a look at some of the common causes of shoulder pain:

  1. Rotator Cuff Injuries: The rotator cuff is a group of tendons and muscles that surround the shoulder joint. Injuries to the rotator cuff, such as tears or strains, can lead to pain and reduced shoulder mobility.

  2. Tendinitis or Tendinosis: Inflammation or degeneration of the tendons in the shoulder can cause pain. Common forms include biceps tendinitis and supraspinatus tendinitis.

  3. Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis): This condition involves the thickening and tightening of the shoulder joint capsule, leading to restricted movement and pain.

  4. Shoulder Impingement: This occurs when the shoulder structures rub against the tendons and bursa of the rotator cuff, causing pain and inflammation.

  5. Arthritis: Osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis can affect the shoulder joint and cause pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion.

  6. Bursitis: Inflammation of the bursa sacs that cushion the shoulder joint can result in pain, particularly with arm movement.

  7. Fractures or Dislocations: Broken bones or dislocated joints in the shoulder can cause severe pain and require immediate medical attention.

  8. Nerve Compression: Conditions like thoracic outlet syndrome or nerve impingement can lead to shoulder and arm pain due to pressure on nerves in the neck or shoulder region.

  9. Referred Pain: Sometimes, pain in the shoulder may actually be referred pain from another area of the body, such as the neck or spine.

There are several tests and diagnostic procedures that I can use to assess shoulder problems which help determine the cause of shoulder pain or dysfunction. Here are some common tests and evaluations for shoulder issues:

  1. Physical Examination: The healthcare provider will start with a physical examination, checking for tenderness, range of motion, strength, and any visible deformities in the shoulder area.

  2. Special Orthopaedic Diagnostic Tests: Special shoulder tests are clinical assessments that healthcare professionals use to evaluate specific shoulder conditions or injuries. These tests help diagnose and determine the cause of shoulder pain.

  3. X-rays: X-rays can help identify fractures, dislocations, or bone-related issues in the shoulder. They are particularly useful for assessing bone health.

  4. Ultrasound: Ultrasound imaging uses sound waves to create real-time images of the shoulder's soft tissues, making it useful for examining the rotator cuff, tendons, and bursae.

  5. Resonance Imaging (MRI): An MRI provides detailed images of the soft tissues in the shoulder, such as the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. It is valuable for diagnosing conditions like rotator cuff tears or ligament injuries.

Get in touch to get your shoulder issue sorted. Get in touch or book an appointment online!


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