How to Check if Your Shoulder Injury is Severe?

If you have recently suffered a shoulder injury, it is important to determine how severe it is. Many people make the mistake of assuming that all shoulder injuries are equally serious, but this is not always the case. Some injuries can be treated at home with a few simple steps, while others may require surgery or other more intensive treatment. In this article, we will teach you how to check if your shoulder injury is severe.


Diagnosing Shoulder Sprains, Strains & Tears


The severity of a shoulder injury can be difficult to determine. Many times, it is hard to tell the difference between a sprain, strain, or tear. It is important to seek medical attention if you are unsure of the severity of your injury. The following steps will help you determine the severity of your shoulder injury:


  • How severe is the pain?
  • How much can you move your shoulder?
  • How swollen is your shoulder?
  • Did you hear or feel a “pop” when the injury occurred?


If you answer yes to any of these questions, it is likely that you have a more severe shoulder injury and should seek medical attention. A sprain is the most common type of shoulder injury and is typically accompanied by mild to moderate pain, swelling, and a limited range of motion. A strain is a slightly more severe injury that is characterized by moderate to severe pain, swelling, and a reduced range of motion. A tear is the most severe type of shoulder injury and is accompanied by intense pain, significant swelling, and a complete loss of range of motion. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention right away.

It is also important to note that certain activities can increase your risk of developing a shoulder injury. Sports such as football, basketball, wrestling, and gymnastics carry an increased risk for shoulder injuries. Falls or blows to the shoulder can also cause injuries. If you participate in any activities that put you at risk for a shoulder injury, it is important to take precautions to help prevent an injury. Wearing protective gear such as shoulder pads can help protect your shoulder from injuries.


Medical History


The first step in diagnosing a shoulder injury is taking a medical history. This includes questions about when the pain started, what activities or motions cause pain, and whether there is any swelling or bruising.

Your doctor will also want to know if you have any other medical conditions, such as diabetes, arthritis, or heart disease.


Physical Exam


If you have a shoulder injury, your doctor will probably perform a physical exam. He or she will ask about your symptoms and how the injury occurred. The doctor will also examine your shoulder to see if there is any damage.




X-rays are usually the best way to determine the severity of a shoulder injury. If you have an X-ray, your doctor can compare it to a chart that grades how severe the injury is. This will help them decide if surgery is necessary or not.

If you don’t have an X-ray, there are other ways to check the severity of your injury. One way is to move your arm in different directions and see if it hurts. If it hurts a lot when you move it, then your injury is most likely severe. You can also try to lift your arm all the way up above your head and see if that hurts.


Ultrasound Machines


Ultrasound machines are a common piece of technology found in doctors’ offices and hospitals. They are used to help diagnose a variety of medical conditions by looking at the inside of the body. When it comes to shoulder injuries, an ultrasound machine can be used to check for damage to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in and around the shoulder joint. If you have suffered a shoulder injury, your doctor may order an ultrasound scan to determine the extent of the damage.


MRI Scans


If you have a shoulder injury, your doctor may order an MRI scan to determine the severity of the injury. MRI scans use powerful magnets and radio waves to create images of the inside of your body. They can help your doctor identify problems such as tears in ligaments or tendons, damage to cartilage, and masses or cysts.

If you’re experiencing shoulder pain and you’re not sure if it’s severe, don’t worry. There are a few ways to diagnose a shoulder sprain, strain, or tear. The most accurate way is to go see your doctor, who will perform a physical exam and may order X-rays, an ultrasound, or even an MRI. But don’t wait too long – the sooner you get treatment for your injury, the better chance you have of making a full recovery. So if you think you might have injured your shoulder, give Dr. Stephen S. Chen, MD a call today and he can help get you started on the path to healing.


Are You Looking for a Sports Medicine Physician You Can Trust?


Dr. Chen sees patients at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital Center for Sports Medicine in Walnut Creek, California. He is a board-certified Pediatrician and Sports Medicine Doctor that specializes in the non-operative medical treatment of a wide variety of various musculoskeletal conditions, including back injuries.  Dr. Chen graduated from St. George’s University School of Medicine and went on to complete Pediatric residency training at the University of Medicine and Dentistry in New Jersey (Rutgers), then went on to fellowship training in Sports Medicine at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, one of the perennially top-ranked children’s hospitals in the nation. There he provided sideline coverage for NCAA Division I athletics at the University of Cincinnati and Miami University (OH). Since graduating, Dr. Chen has continued his love of sports coverage by volunteering for the San Francisco Marathon, the San Francisco Giant Race, and as the team physician for Northgate High School in Walnut Creek. Being a part of The Center for Sports Medicine allows Dr. Chen quick access to a multidisciplinary team of orthopedic surgeons, podiatrists, physiatrists, and physical therapists to return you to your highest functional level quickly and safely. Click here to contact us for your next appointment!


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X-Ray - Cause Of Shoulder Pain or Shoulder Injuries Diagnosed - Stephen S. Chen, MD