Do X-Rays Show Rotator Cuff Tear?
Whenever we see patients in the office, we always get the appropriate imaging to evaluate their shoulder pain.
That always starts with a plain x ray for rotator cuff tear. X-rays give us the ability to look at the overall bone structure, the alignment of the ball and socket or the humerus and the glenoid respectively and it gives us the ability to make sure there’s no arthritis, no old trauma such as fractures or dislocations and whatnot.
The main limitation to the x-ray is that it doesn’t allow us to evaluate soft tissues. So, we cannot diagnose the majority of rotator cuff tears off of an x-ray alone. That requires advanced imaging either through an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or through an ultrasound by somebody who is really well trained in ultrasound technology and can do a proper exam.
Most of the time when we start out with x rays when we suspect that there are going to be rotator cuff injuries. Based on the history in the exam, we’ll jump to that advanced imaging step so that we can really pinpoint the tear, characterize it, determine how large it is, and come up with a plan to help patients based on the specific characteristics of their tear.
Think you may have a legitimate concern about a rotator cuff injury and would like to get some advice or feedback? Call my office to schedule an appointment online.