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Baylor Medical Center at Irving

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What Causes Shoulder Problems? 

Although the shoulder is the most movable joint in the body, it is also an unstable joint because of its range-of-motion. Because the ball of the upper arm is larger than the socket of the shoulder, it is susceptible to injury. The shoulder joint must also be supported by soft tissues - muscles, tendons, and ligaments - which are also subject to injury, overuse, and under use.

Degenerative conditions and other diseases in the body may also contribute to shoulder problems or generate pain that travels along nerves to the shoulder.

How are shoulder problems diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination (to determine range-of-motion, location of pain and level of joint instability/stability), diagnostic procedures for shoulder problems may include the following:

  • X-ray - A diagnostic test that uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - A diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body; can often determine damage or disease in a surrounding ligament or muscle.
  • Computed tomography scan (also called a CT or CAT scan) - A diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce horizontal, or axial, images (often called slices) of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general X-rays.
  • Electromyogram (EMG) - A test to evaluate nerve and muscle function.
  • Ultrasound - A diagnostic technique that uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of the internal organs.
  • Laboratory tests - To determine if other problems may be the cause
  • Anthroscopy - A minimally-invasive diagnostic and treatment procedure used for conditions of a joint. This procedure uses a small, lighted, optic tube (arthroscope) that is inserted into the joint through a small incision in the joint. Images of the inside of the joint are projected onto a screen; used to evaluate any degenerative and/or arthritic changes in the joint; to detect bone diseases and tumors; to determine the cause of bone pain and inflammation.

Treatment of Shoulder Problems

Specific treatment of shoulder problems will be determined by your doctor based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history
  • Extent of the condition
  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • Expectations for the course of the condition
  • Your opinion or preference

Treatment may include:

  • Activity modification
  • Rest
  • Physical therapy
  • Medications
  • Surgery

Join Baylor Irving at a free seminar on shoulder and elbow pain on Thursday, April 3, 5-6 p.m., with Adam Crawford, MD, orthopedic surgeon on the Baylor Irving medical staff. The seminar will be at the Baylor Irving conference center, 2021 N. MacArthur Blvd in Irving, Medical Office Building II, Conference Rooms 3 and 4.

For more information or to register for this free seminar, please call 1.800.4BAYLOR.