Bilateral magnetic resonance imaging findings in individuals with unilateral shoulder pain

Review written by Todd Hargrove info

Key Points

  1. Structural abnormalities in shoulders, as revealed by MRI, are extremely common.
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Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is often used to identify structural abnormalities that may be contributing to pain. However, numerous studies have shown that such abnormalities are common in people without pain, raising the question of whether these findings are merely incidental. The primary objective of this study was to compare MRI results in painful and non-painful shoulders on the same person. The secondary objective of the study was to determine the level of agreement between surgeons and radiologists in interpreting the MRIs.

Structural abnormalities are common in people without pain.
This study suggests that MRI findings may be incidental and not a cause for pain.


Researchers evaluated 123 people with unilateral shoulder pain but no neck pain, adhesive capsulitis, substantial loss of ROM, or history of shoulder dislocation or upper-limb fracture. MRIs were independently read by a radiologist and an experienced orthopedic shoulder surgeon. These

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