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MRI is a non-invasive procedure that uses magnetic fields to create images of the human body.
What to wear
Wear comfortable, light-weight clothing (if possible) and remove all jewelry (including watches). Some patients may be asked to wear gowns.
What to expect
During the exam:
You will lie on your back on a padded table in a closed tube (about the size of a small bathroom). The table slides into the opening of the machine. A technician will help you slide into position and keep you safe during your exam. You may be able to hear the sounds of other machines being used in the same room during your scan. The scanning process takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour or more depending on what parts of your body are being scanned. During this time, you may be asked to hold still or move certain parts of your body so that adequate images can be taken. If any part of your body is uncomfortable at any point during your scan, let us know immediately so we can make adjustments for you. Afterward:
After your scan is complete, you will be assisted out of the machine by our technicians and brought back into our waiting area where we’ll review the results with you.
When to get an MRI of the Shoulder
In most cases, your doctor will order an MRI as part of a complete examination. But sometimes, you may be referred for an MRI after other tests have not found any cause for your pain. If your doctor recommends an MRI, it is important that you understand why you are having the test done and what it will show.
An MRI is the best way to look at soft tissues such as tendons and ligaments, but not bone. It can also give a good idea about the size and location of any tears or problems with muscles or tendons that are causing shoulder pain.
Your doctor may recommend an MRI if:
You have had an injury or fall that caused sudden pain in your shoulder area
You have a history of repetitive stress injuries to your shoulder area that causes swelling or inflammation
You have pain in both shoulders at the same time (bilateral)
You have had a previous injury to one shoulder that has healed poorly and now hurts again
You have weakness in one arm (paralysis) without any known cause
The most common cause of shoulder pain is rotator cuff tendinopathy, which can be caused by a variety of factors. The rotator cuff consists of four tendons and their associated muscles that attach the upper arm to the shoulder blade. Tendinopathy refers to damage to a tendon, which can lead to pain, swelling and stiffness.
Treatment options include rest, physical therapy and exercise. If these methods do not improve your symptoms, surgery may be recommended.
The following information should help you decide whether MRIs are appropriate for your condition:
When Should I Get an MRI?
The MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan is a noninvasive procedure that uses magnetic fields and radio waves to produce images of the body. The scan is painless, but you may be asked to hold your breath at times.
When Should I Get an MRI?
If you’re having pain or other symptoms in your shoulder that don’t go away with treatment, see your doctor. He or she will examine your shoulder, check for swelling and tenderness and order X-rays and other tests if needed. If these tests don’t reveal anything suspicious, he or she may refer you for an MRI.
Doctors usually recommend MRIs when they believe there’s a chance that a problem could be serious — such as cancer — but it isn’t clear what’s causing the symptoms. MRIs can show abnormalities like tumors or damaged tissue even when other tests don’t find anything wrong with you. This is called ruling out a condition.
The MRI is the best imaging test to evaluate the cause of your shoulder pain. The MRI exam is quick, painless and noninvasive.
You will lie on your back on a padded table. The technician will place you in a narrow cylinder that moves in and out to scan your body from head to toe.
You may feel some pressure or pulling during the exam, but there is no radiation exposure or use of dye. During the exam, you will be asked to hold your breath for short periods of time during which pictures are taken. You will be able to talk with the technician during this time so it will not be uncomfortable for you.
MRI doesn’t require any special preparation, but you may need to stay still for a long time during the procedure. Let your doctor know if you have a medical condition that could affect the results of the test, such as an allergy or pregnancy.
Your doctor will provide specific instructions on what to do before your MRI and what to expect during the procedure.
You’ll need to remove any jewelry, eyeglasses and other metal objects before entering the MRI room. You’ll also be asked to remove all clothing below the waist, wear a gown, put on a lead-lined vest and put your feet in stirrups. The technician will apply gel to help with image quality.
During an MRI scan, you’ll lie on a table that slides into the cylindrical scanner. The machine produces radio waves that penetrate your body and cause hydrogen atoms in water molecules to resonate at different frequencies depending on their location within your body. These signals are analyzed by computer software to produce high-resolution images of internal structures.
When to get an MRI for shoulder pain
An MRI is a special test that uses strong magnetic fields, radio waves and a computer to make pictures of the inside of your body. It can help your doctor see and measure the soft tissues in your shoulder, such as tendons and ligaments.
The following are some reasons why you might need an MRI:
You have a fracture or dislocation of your shoulder joint (injury to the ball and socket).
You have torn ligaments or tendons around your shoulder joint.
Your doctor wants to check for nerve problems affecting your arm or hand.
Your doctor suspects arthritis in your joints.
When to get an MRI for Shoulder Pain
If you’re experiencing shoulder pain, it’s important to consult your doctor. Your doctor will assess your condition and determine whether or not you need an MRI.
The following are some of the symptoms that may warrant an MRI:
Acute trauma to the shoulder (such as a dislocation)
Ongoing pain in one area of the ball and socket joint (known as “frozen shoulder”)
Pain in the front, back or side of the joint
An injury in which there are signs of damage to any of the tendons or ligaments surrounding the joint
When to Get an MRI for Shoulder Pain
An MRI is the best way to diagnose a rotator cuff tear. It can also be used to diagnose other causes of shoulder pain, such as labral tears and bursitis.
An MRI can help determine whether there are other injuries in addition to a rotator cuff tear. For example, if you have pain in your back and neck along with shoulder pain, an MRI could reveal that you have a spinal disc herniation or stenosis (narrowing) causing nerve compression.
Here are some reasons why you might need an MRI:
You have persistent pain after several weeks of conservative treatment (such as physical therapy).
You have pain that doesn’t improve with rest and ice applications.
There’s no visible damage on an X-ray or CT scan of your shoulder joint.
Your doctor suspects there may be something else wrong with your shoulder joint, such as a labral tear or rotator cuff tear.
MRI is a test that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of the body. MRI can be used to diagnose soft tissue injuries and other problems in the shoulder.
When Should I Get an MRI?
The most common reason to have an MRI is for shoulder pain. You may have shoulder pain for many reasons, including:
Injury to the ligament (AC joint sprain) or rotator cuff muscles and tendons
Bursitis of the shoulder joint (also called “water on the shoulder”)
Tendonitis of the rotator cuff tendons or labrum (cartilage) or biceps tendon or supraspinatus tendon
Arthritis in the shoulder joint
MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) is a scan that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed pictures of the inside of the body. MRI is used most often to diagnose problems such as:
A tear in a ligament or tendon
Fractures, such as a broken bone
Ligament injury or tendinitis
Tumors, cysts and other masses