Our shoulder is the most flexible joint in the body. It is classified as a ball and socket joint that allows for multi-axial movement. There are multiple structures that make up the shoulder joint, including bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bursas. These structures allow for the shoulder to move freely through flexion, extension, rotation, abduction, and adduction. Commonly when there are complaints of shoulder pain, it involves either/both the acromioclavicular joint and/or the glenohumeral joint and its surrounding structures. Pain can be caused by a specific injury to the shoulder, but often it can start without any exact cause or reason other than repetitive movements of the shoulder from performing everyday tasks. These repetitive motions can aggravate a muscle, ligament, or tendon which can lead to tendinitis, impingement, sprains and strains and other diagnosis. Although shoulder pain is a very common complaint among the adult population, it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of the pain due the multiple structures that make up the joint. When a patient complains of shoulder pain it is common for them to be asked to perform range of motion movements in order for the physician to evaluate the functional loss of the joint. As well, the physician may move the patients shoulder through a series of tests to attempt to reproduce any pain in order to determine if there may be a pinched nerve, tear or sprain in a ligament or tendon, as well any abnormalities with the rotator cuff muscles. After testing, the doctor may want to order an ultrasound to confirm their suspicions of the patient’s pain through the clinical testing. Ultrasound is a common diagnostic method physicians utilize in order to have a clearer understanding of the patient’s pain. The ultrasound machine will be able to provide a visual of the individual’s muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the shoulder as well check for any fluid or inflammation in the joint.
What Problems can be visualized by Shoulder Ultrasound?
- Rotator Cuff Syndrome
- Joint effusion
- Mass classifications such as cysts and soft tissue lumps
- Labrum Abnormalities
- Muscle, tendon, or ligament sprain, strains or tears
- Certain bony pathologies
What Should I expect during my Ultrasound?
There is no preparation needed for this ultrasound. Please wear loose fitting clothing to the appointment as you will need to expose your shoulder for the ultrasound. The sonographer will apply conductive gel onto the shoulder and use an ultrasound probe to begin the examination. The sonographer will be asking you to move your shoulder into specific positions in order for them to get the images needed for the doctor to review. Please listen closely to their instructions to make your appointment go smoothly. If you are having an ultrasound of one shoulder it will be approximately 15 minutes, if you are having both done then it will be about 30 minutes. For any further questions about a shoulder ultrasound please contact your physician before your scheduled appointment.