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X-Ray to Help Diagnose Shoulder Pain
Your shoulder is a complex joint that consists of a number of different bones, muscles and tendons.
Although pain may often be related to the muscles and tendons, it could also be caused from problems with the shoulder bones themselves and these problems can be diagnosed using x-rays.
Why X-Ray Shoulder Pain?
The first reason to x-ray shoulder pain is if you believe that there has been any injury to the bone such as a fracture.
X-rays do not show up soft tissue such as muscle and tendons but if you have landed on your arm or shoulder then you may have fractured the bone.
Having these x-rays done can also help to prove that it is not from a fracture, so helping to diagnose by a process of elimination.
Other forms of radiography such as x-rays with contrast dyes or ultra-sound can also help to show up more information if it is not a bone-related disorder.
What Does the X-Ray Show?
If your doctor sends you for x-rays to examine your shoulder pain what he wants to look at is the bones of the shoulder and perhaps the joints between these bones.
Your doctor will be able to see whether your bones are in their correct position, whether there are any breakages or fractures, and also examine the spaces between the joints which may indicate if there is any arthritis.
The doctor will not actually be able to see the tendons, ligaments or muscles around and between the bones.
Disadvantqages of Using X-Rays
Although x-rays may be useful in diagnosing some shoulder pain problems, in many cases they are unnecessary as the pain may be caused more by ligaments or soft tissue.
X-rays are also a form of radiation and when radiation is used too often it can have negative effects on the body and so should be avoided where possible.
Unfortunately many people undergo too many unnecessary x-rays and increase their risk of problems from radiation.
Before having any x-rays taken for your shoulder pain ensure that there really is a need and that it is not related to soft tissue damage that will not show up.
Acromioclavicular Arthritis and X-Rays
One form of shoulder pain that x-rays are important in diagnosing is acromioclavicular arthritis.
X-rays can show up changes that take place in the acromioclavicular joint and although these changes may often not be serious, they can also help point doctors towards the fact that a person has acromioclavicular arthritis.
It can also be very useful for seeing if there are any osteophytes which can pinch on the rotator cuff tendon.
Although in many cases x-rays are not necessary for shoulder pain, in some cases they can prove extremely useful, such as in the case of acromioclavicular arthritis.
Ensure that you do not go for any unnecessary x-rays if the problem is soft tissue related though.