Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ


I hurt my left shoulder playing soccer and went to see the doctor for some tests. One of the tests was just like hurting it all over again. This can't be good for the injury. Why do they do that?


The best way to treat a shoulder injury is to find out exactly what's wrong. Shoulder injuries can cause tears of the tendons, ligaments, and capsule. Damage to the cartilage rim around the socket (labrum) is also possible.

There are different tests for each structure. Sometimes "stressing" the shoulder with a particular movement or position causes extreme pain or apprehension. This gives the doctor a lot of information about what's going on inside the joint. In the hands of a good clinician, you're "safe" with these tests. In other words, the skilled tester won't let the injury get worse.

The only way to confirm the exact cause is to do an arthroscopic exam. This is a simple operation but still a surgical procedure. There are always risks and possible problems when under anesthesia. Tests of motion, strength, and joint integrity before the arthroscopy help guide the doctor. The injury can be found quickly and likely repaired at the same time.

Keith Meister, MD, et al. The Posterior Impingement Sign: Diagnosis of Rotator Cuff and Posterior Labral Tears Secondary to Internal Impingement in Overhand Athletes. In The American Journal of Orthopedics. August/September 2004. Vol. 33. No. 8. Pp. 412-415.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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