Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ


I started a weight-lifting program at home two weeks ago. When I increased to 20 pounds for shoulder movements, I felt a pop in my left shoulder. There was a twinge of pain at the time, and the next day I had extreme shoulder pain. I went to see the doctor, and she said I tore the supraspinatus tendon. There were no X-rays or other tests done. Shouldn't I have X-rays or MRI?


X-rays have limited value in a case like this. Your doctor might have ordered an X-ray if she thought you could have fractured a bone.

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is a useful test to identify damaged shoulder tendons. However, it is not always necessary to perform these studies. MRIs are very expensive, and most tendon tears can be accurately identified with a careful physical examination and history.

An MRI is probably not necessary unless the doctor is considering surgery. If you do not get better after a program of physical therapy, the doctor may reconsider ordering an MRI. Getting a second opinion from another doctor may confirm the diagnosis at a lesser cost.

*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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