Do I Really Need a Shoulder MRI? Or Surgery?

Many of our patients ask all the time, “Do I need a shoulder MRI?” or “But what if I have a tear in my shoulder? Do I need surgery?”

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Good news my friends! The research is solid in many of the major medical journals with these answers: 

  • No, an MRI is not usually needed unless a patient has tried at least 6 weeks of Physical Therapy without improvement 

  • Most shoulder MRI’s will show something (some sort of a tear) but that’s OK and totally normal, surgery is usually not needed. Most people have some sort of tear without pain.

  • The outcome for treating shoulder tears with (1) Physical Therapy only versus (2) Surgery + Physical Therapy is THE SAME most of the time (surgery is often not really needed!)

  • Many insurance companies are now requiring their patients to try Physical Therapy for at least 6 weeks BEFORE considering surgery, because the research shows PT is often just as effective if not more so 

  • Here’s an additional reassuring article written by a Shoulder Orthopedic Surgeon discussing how most shoulder surgeries are not actually needed: 

Want more info? 

Curious about how Physical Therapy + our many additional specialties working with stubborn/tight connective tissues can help your shoulder symptoms? 

We offer FREE 30-min Discovery Consults with our Expert Physical Therapists where we can examine you, answer your questions and let you know what is likely causing your symptoms. This is a no-pressure visit where you get to gather more information about your options to move forward and take care of that stubborn/nagging stiff/tight/painful shoulder once and for all. 

Schedule online via our website: 

Or call us: 262.264.8701