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Shoulder Joint Tear Diagnosis

Orthopedic Surgery

How is torn shoulder diagnosed?

If you are experiencing shoulder pain, your doctor will take a history of your injury. You may be able to remember a specific incident or you may note that the pain gradually increased. The doctor will do several physical tests to check range of motion, stability, and pain. In addition, the doctor will request x-rays to see if there are any other reasons for your problems.

Because the rim of the shoulder socket is soft tissue, x-rays will not show damage to it. The doctor may order a computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. In both instances, a contrast medium may be injected to help detect tears.

Ultimately, however, the diagnosis will be made with arthroscopic surgery.

Tears can be located either above (superior) or below (inferior) the middle of the glenoid socket.

A SLAP lesion (superior labrum, anterior [front] to posterior [back]) is a tear of the rim above the middle of the socket that may also involve the biceps tendon. A tear of the rim below the middle of the glenoid socket that also involves the inferior glenohumeral ligament is called a Bankart lesion. Tears of the glenoid rim often occur with other shoulder injuries, such as a dislocated shoulder (full or partial dislocation).