If you are experiencing shoulder pain, your doctor will take a history of your injury. You may be able to remember a specific incident or you may note that the pain gradually increased. The doctor will do several physical tests to check range-of-motion, stability, and pain. Your doctor may also test for general looseness in your ligaments. For example, you may be asked to try to touch your thumb to the underside of your forearm. Your doctor will also request X-rays to see if there are any other reasons for your symptoms.
Shoulder Instability: Your doctor may order imaging tests to help confirm your diagnosis and identify any other problems. X-rays will show any injuries to the bones that make up your shoulder joint. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can provide detailed images of soft tissues. It may help your doctor identify injuries to the ligaments and tendons surrounding your shoulder joint.
Labral Tears: Because the rim of the shoulder socket is soft tissue, X-rays will not show labral tears or damage to the rim. The doctor may order a computed tomography (CT) scan or MRI scan. In both instances, a contrast medium may be injected to help detect tears. Ultimately, however, the diagnosis will be made with arthroscopic surgery.