Can Tendonitis Show Up On An MRI?

by Pat

*Somebody who is considering an MRI on the shoulder for severe pain wants to know:

Can tendonitis show up on an MRI?


Joshua Answers:

Hello Pat.

Tell me more about your shoulder pain.

In answer your quuestion, yes, Tendonitis will show up on an MRI. Well, it can, depending.

It depends on how bad it is, how extensive it is, how much Inflammation is going on.

But yes, MRI will image Tendonitis.

X-rays, not so much. Not so much at all.

Please reply using the comment link below. Do not submit a new submission to answer/reply, it's too hard for me to find where it's supposed to go.

And, comments have a 3,000 character limit so you may have to comment twice.

Joshua Tucker, B.A., C.M.T.
The Tendonitis Expert

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Nov 23, 2009
PART 2 - Can tendonitis show on an MRI - Can Tendonitis Show Up On An MRI?
by: Pat

My Pain is intense... feels like it is separating from my arm when lifting to brush my hair or just to raise my arm at shoulders height. Also, about a hands width down from that is another pain that feels like a constant burn.

I have since had the MRI...and nothing showed...absolutely nothing. This is not in my head. How can I be feeling such pain and yet nothing show??


Joshua Comments:

Hi Pat.

Right off the bat is sounds like a deltoid tendonitis dynamic, and/or a Shoulder Impingement dynamic.

I believe you that it's not in your head. The 'in your head' thing is what doctors say when they have no idea what's going on or how to help you.

THe answer to your question of how you can feel so much pain and not have it show on an MRI is because the body is not as cut and dry as, say, a car.

In a car, if it's broken, it doesn' work. If it's off, you can hear it grind, or something like that.

In the human body, you can have DEBILITATING pain and not be able to see it on any test. Just works that way sometimes.

So....since I can't see you in person in the office, let's go with this plan.

1. Get a few giant bags of frozen corn or some such and start ice packing 5 minutes on, 5 off. Make yourself watch tv for an hour and ice, ice ice. This will take some effort.

2. Go buy some Vitamin D3 and take a bunch. I took 150,000 i.u.'s a couple days ago, I suggest you do that, and then again in a day or two. Have you had your Vitamin D tested lately? It's a sure bet you are deficient. Cover this base and make sure you get your levels up.

Vitamin D deficiency can cause PAIN. And lots of it.

3. Inflammation Causes Vitamin B6 Deficiency.

A safe and effective dose for getting one's levels up is 100-200 mg of B6, and 1,000-2,500 mcg's of B12 (methylcobalamin, not cyanocobalamin).

4. Magnesium for Tendonitis. Make sure you read up on the Magnesium Dosage link at the bottom of that page for what kind and how much.

5. Bone Broth as the best Tendon Supplements

That will start to cover the bases.

Lacking any of the above can cause the pain you describe, it doesn't have to be rip and tear damage usually associated with Tendonitis.

What Is Tendonitis?.


1. Is there any twitching or spasm with the pain?

2. When exactly does it hurt, when does it not hurt?

3. Pain anywhere else?

4. If you raise your hand to reach up towards the ceiling, does it feel tight/stretchy in the armpit/lats area?

Aug 08, 2015
Wrist injury and pianist problems from a fall
by: Ching

I had a slip and fall at the end of 2013. I landed on my left wrist and tail bone. The wrist did not feel as much pain as lower back at the time till 3 months later.

Went to orthotics and it showed nothing in MRI or X-Ray so I went on my life thought it was "just in my head". Last two weeks was the worst in my life.

I could not move my finger and I had swollen around my wrist area. It was so painful and I was so scared since I am a pianist and my hand is everything in my life. I could not press any key on my left hand. The second hand doctor gave me a shot and said it is tendinitis.

Can tendinitis developed within 2-3 months?

What will happen to my career?

i am not just talking about opening the Ziploc bag and wearing a bra but perform ever again.


Joshua Comments:

Hi Ching.

"Can tendinitis developed within 2-3 months?"

Yes, absolutely. Tendonitis is a dynamic and sudden trauma can start a new progressive dynamic or enhance an existing one.

"What will happen to my career?"

That depends on whether you fix what's wrong.

1. What have you tried so far for self care (aside from Corticosteroid Injections?

2. How exactly and where exactly did you land on/impact your wrist?

Aug 21, 2015
by: Ching

I just realized how many misspell I had on the first comment I sent u.

I could not use my left hand to hold the iPhone long and I was in pain and it somehow messed my mind a little.

I started pain few weeks after I fell and I went to chiropractor the beginning of 2014.

But it went worst till beginning of this year so I went to the first orthopedic between Feb to march. Without asking he gave me shot on my wrist and said there was nothing wrong.

I went to a different doctor in July and he said it was cyst. After one week therapy and cold pack treatment it messed me up big time and I had another shot. doctor diagnose this time is dequervian's tendonitis.

When I fell I landed on the left palm of my hand. I work out almost every day since 20 years ago. I am a professional pianist for more than 35 years.


Joshua Comments:

Hi Ching.

So, is there a cyst in there or is there not a cyst in there?

Aug 23, 2015
Diagnosis changed
by: Ching

The second doctor said it was the cyst but the second week after therapist and shot went worst he said it was dequervain's tendonitis.

I somehow don't understand how can diagnosis changed with in one week? That was the reason I went on line and finding solution and found your site.

I just want to go back to work out like I used to and play difficult pieces like Chopin exudes.

I can't do yoga since it requires wrist or holding 15 pounds weights. Playing on piano requires fast fingering moving and pressing on the key not to mention octaves jumping on the key.

Although I am back to teach and work out I have to modify accompanying by the fear whether more diagnosis will come since I just can't stay home doing nothing feeling like handicap.

I hope I am doing the right thing by going back to my routine little by little.

Do u think the pain was caused by fall at the end of the 2013? I never had the pain before the fall. Or I am just getting old and my body decided it is time to have pain on the left wrist where I stupidly landed and somehow bent the wrist?


Joshua Comments:

A diagnosis can change, but the reality in the hand/wrist/etc doesn't.

The question is, is there actually a cyst in there, or is there not?

How did the doctor diagnosis the cyst? Did he just guess or did he actually visualize it?

How did the other doctor diagnosis DeQuervain's? Is he just guessing, or did he do tests to isolate what was happening where?

Aug 25, 2015
Diagnosis was a guess
by: Ching

I have seen two doctors so far. The first one back in early February had no diagnosis on my pain and got me the shot I did not ask for.

The second doctor at the end of June believed it was cyst and he suggested surgery or therapist which I decided therapist. when my pain did not get better but worst after therapist he gave me the shot and again when it got worst after the shot he diagnosed it was Dequervian's tendonitis.

He did not mention he saw anything from MRI. He did mentioned that normally people got better after shot and I was the first patient of his responded different. So the answer for your question will be: no diagnosis from first doctor.

The second doctor had Diagnosis Of cyst from his guessing on first week and then he had second diagnosis of Dequervian's tendinitis.

Neither of those diagnosis were seen from MRI.


Joshua Comments:

Hi Ching.

Well, guesses are no good. There's either a cyst in there or there's not.

It would be good to know which it is.

Having said that, are you working with 'Reversing DeQuervain's Tendonitis'?

Oct 04, 2015
At wits end with arm and shoulder pain
by: Traci

I've been having arm and shoulder pain that's been going on for several months now.

I thought it was getting better but now it seems like it's getting worse.

I'm not sure exactly how I caused this injury; I went to the gym last March and felt a pop when I was doing either bicep curls or lat raises but no real pain.

I also lift heavy furniture on occasion and I can recall lifting and feeling strain but no real pain so again, I don't know just what I did to cause this I only know that I need to get rid of it because it's driving me insane.

I can't sleep because I can't get comfortable. I can't put on a bra because I can't reach behind my back with my right arm.

Taking off my jackets causes pain. I've lost range of motion. So I went to the Dr. And she did muscle testing and don't diagnosed me with tendonitis and shoulder impingement and prescribed naproxen and physical therapy.

I have insurance so I can't do the physical therapy right now. Naproxen is not doing much at all. But to describe the pain; it feels like it is all over my arm and even extends down into my forearm on occasion, it throbs mostly at the deltoid and biceps insertion points, in the belly of my biceps and also the triceps insertion and belly.

It is a deep throbbing pain.

I tried ice once and it seemed to increase the throbbing and then applied heat and light massage and that helped with the pain and range of motion but was short lived.

I seem to be make it worse by moving it the wrong way while sleeping. I'm starting to get neck pain and pain on the back of my shoulder as a result of this.

I'm wondering if I should go to the ER and get an MRI?

This way I can at least get a proper diagnosis to rule out a tear or see if I actually have tendonosis instead? Any suggestions? Why would ice make it throb more? Thanks in advance!


Joshua Comments:

Hi Traci.

Yes, I'd go get an MRI if that's doable for you.

Having said that:

1. How old are you?

2. Activity levels/history of activity levels?

3. Were you a regular gym goer and had that pop, or did you go to the gym out of the blue and that happened?

4. Did you continue icing or just do it the one time?

5. History of injury/pain/problem in the shoulder or otherwise?

Aug 31, 2016
Right shoulder
by: Meg

Hello, so I've had MRI on my neck and my right shoulder because I've been dealing with extreme right shoulder pain for about 8 or 9 months now. The pain started as only during the night then progressed to during the day while I was sitting.

That is what was weird it was only hurting at night and when I was in the seated position.

Then it got worse I couldn't even flush my toilet without my shoulder hurting. So I finally went to a doctor they sent me to physical therapy and gave me a cortisone shot.

The shot helped for a couple weeks and the therapy I thought was helping but then my pain came back in full force so the physical therapist ended my therapy.

He wanted the doctor to send me for an MRI with Dye to make sure there wasn't any hairline tears but the doctor instead sent me for an EMG which I just had and the EMG Doctor said my nerves look fine.

I have been diagnosed with bursitis and tendinitis.

I'm just really curious if the shoulder MRI would of shown any tears even small ones in my tendons? I mean my pain at this point is in both shoulders and it goes down my right arm into my fingers my actual wrist hurts and throbs.

I just want to know if there could be more here then Bursitis and Tendonitis


Joshua Comments:

Hi Meg.

MRI will show tears and bursitis.

It probably won't show tiny tiny tears but it will show inflammation that will indicate such.

'Bursitis and Tendonitis' is PLENTY to have going on. Both can cause debilitating pain etc with no existence of any rip/tear.

Dec 12, 2016
Son in pain after falling out of a tree onto an outstretched arm
by: Emma

My 9 year old son fell out of a tree five weeks ago onto an out-stretched hand.

Since then he has had a few x-rays and an mri which have shown nothing, has been casted, splinted and now has no support.

However, he is in still in severe pain at the base of his thumb, which keeps him awake at night and distracts him at school.

He is usually an active, tough little boy and not like this at all. Could it be dequervain's syndrome, despite not showing on mri?

Could the mri have missed something? Doc says even if it is tendonitis he doesn't need a splint!



Joshua Comments:

Hi Emma.

What exactly did the MRI show? Inflammation somewhere at least?

Why was he casted and splinted if the Xray and MRI didn't show anything??

Ice dip as described on the How To Reduce Inflammation page and let me know what happens.

Oct 07, 2017
Tricep tendonitis
by: Lance scott

Hey ive had tricep tendonitis since may.

I'm 18 and it just won't go away I've done everything.

Therapy immobilization cortizone NAISDs magnesium eccentric movements etc...

I've read on your site everything you have said and nothing works. I really want to get back to my sport and continue pursuing my collegiant career.

I'm getting an mri on Monday to rule out any tears. But I was wondering if you can give me any advice if it's just tendinopathy?


Joshua Comments:

1. You haven't done everything, you've done some things.

2. You read what exactly on this site?

3. Of #2, what exactly have you done from what you've read from this site, how much, how often, for how long?

4. 'just tendinopathy'...what is that exactly, that after reading everything I've said on this site, you think is different that a tendonitis dynamic?

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