Frequently the doctor will get an MRI of the shoulder. MRI is different than x-ray in that it looks at the soft tissue. A great majority of shoulder pain is due to problems with the tendons and the shoulder MRI gives great definition of the tendons as they come out from the medial shoulder and attach to the bones of the upper arm.
Shoulder MRIs are essentially required prior to surgery so that the surgeon can plan the surgery and frequently utilized before physical therapy to help therapists plan an exercise regimen.
MRI of the shoulder is an exam that typically takes about 25 minutes in the scanner.