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How to Read Your Shoulder MRI

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Have you ever wondered how to read your Shoulder MRI?

An empowered patient gets better quicker. This has been a tenant of our practice since it’s inception, hence all of the information on this web-site, the book, videos, etc… Today I’d like to introduce a short video that I call, “How to Read Your Shoulder MRI” to continue that trend.

I break down how to read a shoulder MRI into three parts. The first is the AC joint, the connection between the collar bone and the front of the shoulder blade. The second is the rotator cuff, the stabilizer muscles of the shoulder that so often tear. Finally the third area to know is the main shoulder (glenohumeral) joint.

The AC joint is important because it’s one of the major stability systems of the shoulder. Many patients have subtle laxity and instability in this joint that causes arthritis. This instability also causes more wear and tear on the rotator cuff. Hence, getting this joint stabilized through injections can often be critical to a healthy shoulder that stands the test of time.

The rotator cuff is made up of muscles and tendons and is the main active stabilizing system of the main shoulder joint and also helps to move your arm. Tears here spell problems that should usually be healed, and most often can be.  As I’ve blogged on before, rotator cuff surgery isn’t the answer for most patients.

Finally, the main shoulder joint is the ball and socket that allows your arm to move. This is an area where arthritis and loss of cartilage can set in, so making sure the cartilage stays healthy here is important. Loss of cartilage should be caught early and treated with biologic injections, as shoulder replacement surgery isn’t fully baked yet as a viable technology for most patients.

The upshot? Learning three simple things can help you understand your shoulder MRI. A patient that knows what’s wrong and why is one that can advocate for better care!

~ Dr. Chris Centeno

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Category: Shoulder, Videos

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