Shoulder Imaging: Insights into Shoulder Bursitis and Rotator Cuff Issues

Have you been diagnosed with shoulder bursitis, rotator cuff tendinopathy or tears? Did you know that it is highly likely you have the same changes happening on the other side too? 

In a 2019 study, a group of people with shoulder pain had an MRI. 90% of people were shown to have rotator cuff tendinopathy on their painful side, but 89% of those people also had this on their non-painful side too. Similarly, 55% of people had increased fluid in the subacromial bursa of their painful shoulder, but 56% of them also had increased fluid on the non-painful side. 

Baretto et al (2019)

This means that these structures seen on imaging are unlikely to be causing your pain, otherwise both shoulders would be sore. Treatment directed at these structures (such as cortisone injections or surgery) may only give temporary relief, or no relief at all.

Instead, other factors such as strength, endurance and control of movement are far more important for shoulder pain recovery. These things can be successfully addressed through physiotherapy, and will be working on the underlying issues, not just the structural things that can be seen on a scan. 

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