After much anticipation I finally saw the sports ortho doc and got the MRI results this morning.
The verdict: Partial RC tear
Actually, he spoke of multiple small tears which he pointed out on the MRI; they are just below the acromion.
The doctor doesn't want to rush into surgery so he made the following recommendations, one stage at a time in the following order (below). I'll see him again in 5 weeks and he'll access my progress. If this plan doesn't work, then he will recommend other options (one of which is surgery).
1. work on improving pain with scapula function improvement first;
2. advance to rotator cuff activities once pain is reduced;
3. gradually advance to other activities including biking, gardening, gym, and rappelling
Notice that my favorite activities are last. This probably means being off the bike for a while, except for spin classes. I explained that I rode a metric century in the TdF in November without pain, and now I can't ride 10 miles without pain. He asked "I bet you ride a racing bike" (meaning, road bike). Yep -- and he said that's probably a contributing factor.
He gave me a new Rx for PT which begins next Monday, this time specifically to treat a partial RC tear. He also showed me a few things I can do with shoulder blades pinched (good posture) to improve scapular strength and function, taking some load off the RC.
Meanwhile I am working full time while overseeing my mom's care (about 50 minutes from home) while she is still in the hospital recovering from severe leg and hip pain. She has no idea about my shoulder and I won't tell her until she is independent once again, as that will cause her to worry and fret over me.
I am feeling the effects of not getting any decent amount of exercise for about 3 weeks, with the exception of climbing stairs at work, at the hospital, and at her home. I hope to get out and take a good walk this weekend.