Shouldering the Damage of Impact Sports

As fall sports begin, Radiologists and the staff at Sonos Imaging gear up for what we call “shoulder season.” Fall sports means football and other high impact activities and exercise are in play. Seasonally these activities result in an increase of shoulder injuries requiring diagnostic imaging.

The shoulder is a major joint held together and protected by four main muscles and tendons across the top of the shoulder which is particularly vulnerable in impact fall sports. An MRI is an excellent choice for examining the shoulder joint. MRIs give clear views of rotator cuff tears, injuries to the biceps tendon and damage to the glenoid labrum, the soft fibrous tissue rim that helps stabilize the joint. The repetitive and defensive use of the shoulder in high impact sports such as football and basketball opens the opportunity for critical injuries to the Rotator Cuff.  Rotator Cuff tears are one of the top injuries we see in orthopedic injury MRI studies.


Some of the key indicators of a significant shoulder injury include:

  • Sharp pain
  • Dislocation
  • Limited range of motion
  • A burning sensation into your bicep or pectoral muscles

Rotator cuff tears do not heal on their own. In fact, the entwined connective tissues that make up the shoulder, are dependent on the muscles around it. If an injury to the area is left ignored, it could pose further damage.  Therefore, an MRI is typically used to either diagnose a rotator cuff tear or to rule out one when someone complains of shoulder pain and weakness. The sooner a shoulder is examined and diagnosed, the less damage can occur.

If you experience any of the pain and discomfort described above, please consult your doctor. They may then recommend a routine MRI or a shoulder MR arthrogram, which involves an X-ray with dye injection followed by an MRI. Although more involved and requires more time, this diagnostic imaging procedure is more specific for shoulder joint injuries. For more information, or to schedule an MRI for your shoulder injury, contact Sonos Imaging.

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