A wide variety of tools are available to a physician to determine the extent of a serious shoulder injury. This is especially true for injuries to the rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder. The rotator cuff muscles consist of a small group of four muscles surrounding the shoulder. These muscles aren’t responsible for forceful movements. Instead, they guide the movements of the shoulder.
High-resolution ultrasound has recently become popular as a tool to help diagnose the extent of tears to the rotator cuff following shoulder injury. This recent study determined that ultrasound is a very effective way to help diagnose the extent of rotator cuff tears. In fact, with complete tears to the rotator cuff, ultrasound accurately diagnosed the problem 100% of the time. Ultrasound also helped correctly identify tears to the biceps tendon approximately 60% of the time and shoulder dislocations over 90% of the time.
Doctors may still try conservative measures such as medication, physical therapy, and time to help heal a shoulder injury. But ultrasound has been proven a very effective tool to help doctors diagnose the nature and extent of shoulder injuries, especially rotator cuff tears.