Diagnosing Shoulder Problems
Tests your doctor uses to find the cause of shoulder pain.
Diagnosing a shoulder problem will begin with a physical exam and assessment of your medical history. During the medical history your doctor will ask you questions such as:
- What symptoms are you experiencing?
- When did you first start noticing them? Were they the result of an injury?
- Are your symptoms worse after activity or rest? Are there certain activities that make them worse – or better?
- Do you recall having an illness or accident around the time your symptoms began?
- Are you experiencing symptoms in any joints besides the shoulder(s)?
- Do any of your family members have arthritis or other shoulder problems?
- Do you have other medical problems that could be causing your symptoms?
During the physical exam your doctor will look at and touch your shoulders and any other joints you may be experiencing problems with. Your doctor will be looking for areas that have tenderness, pain or swelling, as well as indications that the joint may be damaged. Depending on the findings of the history and exam, your doctor may order lab tests and imaging tests to help make or confirm a diagnosis.