Shoulder Pain & MRI’s – Latest Evidence

ReSync Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic - Dublin

Have you had or have should pain?

Read this for insights if you have had a scan such as an MRI  completed on your shoulder. A Study from 2011, conducted an ultrasound scan on 50 males with no history of shoulder pain and the results were astounding. 96% of these men had abnormal findings.

The highest abnormal findings were:

  • Bursal thickening (78%),
  • A/C joint osteoarthritis (65%)
  • Rotator cuff tendon issues (25%)
  • Rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder


Just because your scan says you have a structural issue in your shoulder does not mean that is the cause or driver of your pain. More and more evidence is being released that states…. “Abnormal findings are not linked to prevalence of pain and must be correlated with clinical findings on assessment”


AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2011 Oct;197(4):W713-9. doi: 10.2214/AJR.11.6971.

Ultrasound of the shoulder: asymptomatic findings in men.

What does this mean for me?

First of all if your MRI results shows up some structural changes- DO NOT BE WORRIED. The latest evidence being release is indicating that the structural issues we see on MRI in shoulders, and the spine, are caused by the process of aging. The results should be used by your healthcare professional in conjunction with their clinical assessment of your shoulder.

Finally, pain is a funny thing..

Our body uses pain as a way of telling us that it is not functioning properly. Pain after breaking your arm or leg is called traumatic pain and is understandable given the severity of breaking a bone. But pain that comes on gradually is your body telling you, OK your doing something I don’t like and and I’m going to keep reminding you that this is the case until you change what is causing the pain. Things that may cause gradual pain are a repetitive motion such as painting, sitting awkwardly at a desk, driving or sitting for excessively long periods. Your physiotherapist will take a detailed history of what you do in your daily life and narrow these down to a list of things that may be causing or “driving” your pain.

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