Do You Need an MRI to Diagnose Shoulder & Arm Pain?

Determining the cause of shoulder and arm pain can be a complex process, requiring a comprehensive approach to accurately diagnose and treat the underlying issue. Dr. Tim Johans, a neurosurgeon in Boise with extensive experience in treating spinal conditions, emphasizes the importance of a thorough evaluation to identify the source of pain and develop an effective treatment plan.

This blog explores the diagnostic methods used to assess shoulder and arm pain, the specific role of MRI in this process, and what patients can expect if an MRI is necessary.

Dr. Johans is a Diplomat and Fellow of the American Board of Neurological Surgeons, board certified in Pain Management and is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the American Board of Neurological Surgeons. He began his neurosurgical career in 1988 and has been practicing in Boise since 1993. With these credentials, you can trust that Dr. Johans has the specialized knowledge and experience to provide you with an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment plan.

He is a dedicated family man who is heavily involved in his community, is involved in several hospital boards and committees and takes pride in being a faith-driven person. Dr. Johans has had a 3 level neck fusion and can discuss options from his vast personal experience.

We also work closely with other non-surgeons if necessary so that our patients can access all available resources when making decisions regarding their treatment plans. Additionally, our team is always prompt in responding to inquiries and addressing patients' concerns throughout their recovery process. Reviews on Google and Healthgrades show that many individuals who have sought treatment from Dr. Johans have found success in his treatments while feeling comfortable and supported throughout their experiences at our office.

What Methods Are Used to Diagnose Shoulder and Arm Pain?

The journey to diagnosing shoulder and arm pain begins with an initial assessment, which usually involves a detailed history and physical examination with Dr. Johans. During this examination, he assesses the pain's location, intensity, and any associated movement limitations. Depending on the findings, a variety of diagnostic tests may be recommended, including X-rays to check for bone fractures or degeneration.

Almost always an MRI of the neck will be required if you have arm pain, numbness, or weakness. In some cases, blood tests are conducted to exclude infections or inflammatory diseases that might be contributing to the pain. This comprehensive evaluation is crucial for identifying the underlying causes of shoulder and arm pain and determining the most appropriate course of treatment. During an appointment, Dr. Johans will outline both surgical and nonsurgical options, as each represents a viable approach for addressing shoulder and arm pain.

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When Is an MRI Useful for Shoulder and Arm Pain?

An MRI becomes particularly valuable when the pain is suspected to stem from conditions not visible on X-rays, such as herniated discs, nerve root compression, or abnormalities within the spinal cord. Dr. Johans often recommends an MRI if the pain persists despite initial conservative treatments, is severe, or is accompanied by symptoms like numbness, tingling, or weakness in the arms, shoulders, or hand.

By providing detailed images of the body's soft tissues, an MRI plays an important role in the diagnostic process, especially when surgical intervention is being seriously considered. It allows for a complete understanding of the spinal structures involved, facilitating precise treatment planning.

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What Should I Expect if I Need to Get an MRI to Diagnose Shoulder or Arm Pain?

An MRI is a straightforward, non-invasive scan that typically lasts between 30 to 60 minutes. Patients are required to lie still inside a large machine that utilizes magnetic fields and radio waves to generate detailed images of the internal structures. Patients need to inform the medical team of any metal implants, pacemakers, or specific allergies, as these factors can influence MRI compatibility.

After the MRI, the images are analyzed by a radiologist who will issue a report, but it requires Dr. Johans to take time to discuss these findings in depth, ensuring patients understand their condition and the proposed treatment options. This collaborative approach to reviewing MRI results is instrumental in how Dr. Johans devises a targeted treatment plan that addresses the root cause of the pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness felt in the shoulders, arms, or hands.

While the path to diagnosing shoulder and arm pain involves various steps and considerations, MRI plays a crucial role in uncovering the underlying causes of discomfort. With Dr. Johans' guidance, patients can navigate this diagnostic process with clarity and confidence, moving closer to achieving lasting pain relief and improved spinal health.

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Contact Dr. Johans for Disc Replacement in Boise

If cervical disc replacement is a procedure you're considering, Dr. Johans is here to guide you every step of the way. His commitment is to provide personalized care that aligns with your lifestyle and health objectives. 

Reach out directly at (208) 327-5621 or start your journey to recovery by completing our patient questionnaire. Together, we'll explore the best treatment options for you and your lifestyle.

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