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Has your shoulder started to bother you? Have you been referred for ultrasound imaging?

Diagnostic ultrasound is a common, fast and relatively cheap method of examining the structures of your shoulder (think muscles, tendons, ligaments) or other joints in your body. Chances are you know someone who has had a diagnostic ultrasound, or you have been referred for diagnostic ultrasound.

Many patients that we see in clinic bring in ultrasound reports that seem very scary. Think about getting an ultrasound report that says, “Full thickness tear of your supraspinatus tendon”, or, “Tendinosis of biceps brachii”. These words make it sound like your shoulder is not in great shape.

We’re here to say: your prognosis may not be as bad as you think!

A study by Girish et al performed diagnostic ultrasound on males with NO shoulder complaints or symptoms. You read that right – NO symptoms. Nada. Zilch. Zero. The participants in this study were males aged 40-70 years old. Ultrasound reports showed that 96% of participants had some sort of abnormal finding on their ultrasound. In other words, the ultrasound reports showed that 96% participants had findings such as partial thickness tears of their rotator cuff tendons (the tendons that help to stabilize the shoulder), or tendinosis of their rotator cuff, but none of the participants had any shoulder aches or pains!

What does this mean for you then?

It means that the whole clinical picture must be taken into consideration when looking at diagnostic imaging results. Sometimes your pain may not be related to the findings on your ultrasound report, but other times it may be!

When all is said and done, our main concern when treating your shoulder or any other joint in your body, is based on how you present in clinic. We will consider our physical clinical tests as well as the motions that aggravate your pain or what you are unable to do at work or home. Then we may bring in that ultrasound report to help further explain the symptoms you are experiencing, to give a full clinical picture. Together, all these tests and measures help to inform the treatment we recommend to get you back on the road to recovery.

So, you have shoulder pain and you just received an ultrasound result saying you have a “tear of your supraspinatus tendon”. What are you going to do? Don’t sweat it! Chances are your shoulder is highly treatable with some visits to your local physiotherapist. So, give us a call today if you are experiencing shoulder pain and want to do something about it!

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