A plain x-ray is important, especially if the practitioner is considering referral to a specialist. An x-ray will identify calcific tendonitis, a very painful condition that can be treated simply, if identified early. An x-ray will also rule arthritis in or out as a cause of symptoms. An x-ray can often be a guide for identifying rotator cuff dysfunction if there is spur formation on the acromion and the greater tuberosity.
Ultrasound is an easy and relatively inexpensive method of confirming or denying the presence of a rotator cuff tear. Shoulder ultrasound is, however, operator dependent, and centers that perform large volumes of ultrasound are more accurate than those that do not. Our ultrasound facility is one of the best in the world assessing the rotator cuff.