Trying to determine whether I should get MRI on my shoulder or not
August 22, 2017 7:44 AM   Subscribe

I work at a grocery store where I lift heavy shit, do repetitive motions over and over again, and collect the shopping carts by hand which exerts alot of force on my shoulder. I've also never had the best posture in the world either. Long story short I've been to 3 different doctors about 5 times total over the last 3 years.And I am trying to determine whether or not I should go through with the mri or not.

My deductible with insurance was met when I had hernia surgery in january so I'm trying to get this sorted out. I went to physical therapy for 2 sessions but, cancelled it after my boss was so short staffed i was working 39 hours a week over 6 days in a part time position and I didn't feel it worth it. Now I'm back down to regular hours and working early like 6am shifts so they should be in theory less stressful and PT might be more beneficial. The straw that broke the camels back to go back to the doctor was when I thought I heard something pop in my left shoulder and have been having some pain there as well. Anyway the pain isn't enough to keep me up at night and I rarerly if ever even take anti inflammatories I just suck it up. I have full range of motion and xray was negative so I'm not sure if i ever got a muscle pull. I was hit by a car on my right side but, really slowly. I bought a massage thing that seems to work alright and am taking next week off work. So I guess what I'm trying to figure out is it worth getting an mri if my doctor is offering it just to rule that possibility out? I honestly feel like if i tore a muscle it would more likely hurt more than just put me in a bad mood and would more likely be in my right shoulder. My elbows and knees are starting to get bad as well so I wouldn't be surprised at all if it was just tendinitis or something. Anyway should I suck it up and pay the money for the mri and at least know if it's something or not?
posted by mamamia88 to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Can you clarify the part about your deductible being met but you having to pay for the MRI? I assume you are in between your deductible and your out-of-pocket maximum for the year. Still, your insurance should be paying part of the cost because you have hit your deductible. If you get the MRI this year, they will pay for part of it, but if you get it next year, you will pay all of it until you hit your deductible. Since this has been an issue for 3 years, I would keep trying things including Physical Therapy. Your health is more important than your boss being short staffed. Repetitive Stress Injuries should be taken seriously and not just "sucked up".
posted by soelo at 8:06 AM on August 22, 2017

The thing I realized after pushing and pushing for an MRI on my knee was that for most of these issues there are two major solutions: PT and surgery. So, yeah, in the end the MRI showed tears, and I could get surgery. But I was young and wanted to postpone surgery, so what good did the MRI do? Give me a datapoint, maybe, if I ever do get that surgery? But I'd need a new MRI then anyway.

So what is your goal of getting an MRI? Ruling out an injury that might merit a surgery you might or might not want? Basically, talk to your doctor about what your end goal is here. If it's just to be well enough to do your work, PT may be a better investment.
posted by ldthomps at 8:25 AM on August 22, 2017 [3 favorites]

If you think it's work-related, file a workers comp claim with your employer, then hire an attorney to make sure you get your treatment covered under workers' comp.
posted by amro at 8:26 AM on August 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Sounds like this may be covered by worker's comp, if you are in the US.
posted by Stewriffic at 8:26 AM on August 22, 2017

@ldthomps yeah basically the goal of the mri would be to rule out any injury that wouldn't respond to physical therapy. I called the hospital to see what they would charge and they said like $100. I guess I would need to contact my insurance and find out for myself
posted by mamamia88 at 9:01 AM on August 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

I would go with getting the MRI because you need to know what's wrong and how to fix it before it gets worse. Presumably you have a long life ahead of you, and it would suck to spend all those years with a bum shoulder and the resultant limitations it would put on you, back issues that might result from the imbalance, being in pain all the time....

See what costs are involved and get it taken care of. Consider it an investment in an active and mobile old age. Or even middle age.
posted by Autumnheart at 4:47 PM on August 22, 2017

Whether MRI is an appropriate investigation depends on what the examination of your shoulder shows. An ultrasound may be a more appropriate investigation at this point, or just physio.
posted by chiquitita at 8:34 PM on August 22, 2017

As someone who suffered a similar injury almost 20 years ago, and is still dealing with it because I didn't get appropriate care back then, do absolutely everything possible to fix this now. Do you want to be in pain the rest of your life?
posted by postel's law at 4:37 AM on August 23, 2017

If you can afford it I would never say no to an MRI. There's no risk involved in the test itself and you always have a chance of finding exciting new physical defects you didn't know you had. it is true that no matter how bad your injury, insurance company will probably demand you try a round of PT before paying for any potential surgery or injections etc., but you may still find it useful to have a diagnosis and test results in hand before starting on that. If the pain ever worsens to the point where you need medication, it will also be very helpful to have something objectively wrong to point to (if there is anything.)

plus, there are PT exercises that can seriously damage you if your therapist decides your low level of reported pain means there's probably no structural damage, and this turns out to be a mistake. it's also a good way to evaluate potential PTs, by seeing what they say in response to your MRI report and if they sound like they know what they're talking about. some know a lot more than some doctors and some...don't.
posted by queenofbithynia at 8:51 AM on August 23, 2017

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