While x-rays are best for viewing joint deterioration and alignment, MRI is the best imaging for diagnosis of muscular, ligamentous/partially torn rotator cuff. In many shoulder pain cases, MRI helps surgeons pin-point exactly where the problem is so they know where to operate. For alternative treatment with regenerative medicine for shoulder pain, an MRI can also be extremely helpful for determining how complete of a resolution may be possible. Regenerative medicine works very well for partial tears but not for complete tears that require surgery and knowing this ahead of time is important for realistic expectations.
As a caution however, sometimes MRI images can be deceptive. MRI studies show the anatomy in thin slices/multiple layers so sometimes can be difficult to read; varied opinions of the same study is a common problem. To make things even more complicated, sometimes MRIs show positive findings that may or may not have anything to do with the patient’s current condition. For example, a previous injury from years ago may still show on an MRI however is not currently causing symptoms. This can present confusing findings or cause incorrect therapy recommendations. This is particularly detrimental when a surgery is performed based on incorrect MRI findings and perhaps one of the reasons for a percentage of shoulder surgeries that produce no result.
The great thing about regenerative medicine is the allograft cells help the body heal whatever tissue is damaged or needs repair. This is an innate property of undifferentiated somatic cells used in regen med treatments; they only need to be directed to the right area and they figure out the rest. In most shoulder pain cases orthopedic testing, pain findings and plain film x-ray provides sufficient information for great results and an exact location directed by MRI is not always necessary, however useful if available. At Solutions, we always encourage MRI or any other imaging and test results that might provide more information to better help our patients.