Health A-Z

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The doctor will inspect both your shoulders, comparing your injured shoulder with your uninjured one. The doctor will note any swelling, shape differences, abrasions or bruising and will check for extra motion in the acromioclavicular and sternoclavicular joints. He or she will test your ability to move your shoulder, and will ask about arm pain. Your doctor will gently press and feel your acromioclavicular joint, sternoclavicular joint and collarbone.

Because many important blood vessels and nerves travel through your shoulder area, the doctor will also check the pulses at your wrist and elbow and will check the muscle strength and skin feeling in your arm, hand and fingers.

If your physical examination suggests that you have a severe shoulder sprain or fractured bone in the shoulder area, your doctor will order X-rays. In more severe acromioclavicular joint injuries, your doctor may also order magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans or computed tomography (CT) scans.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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