Painful Arc Test of Shoulder for Supraspinatus Impingement

The Painful Arc Test is commonly used in orthopedic examination of the shoulder to test for impingement of the supraspinatus tendon and/or the subacromial bursa underneath the acromion.

By National Institute Of Arthritis And Musculoskeletal And Skin Diseases (NIAMS); SVG version by Angelito7 - Shoulderjoint.PNG, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29907860
By National Institute Of Arthritis And Musculoskeletal And Skin Diseases (NIAMS); SVG version by Angelito7 – Shoulderjoint.PNG, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29907860

Involved Structures

  • supraspinatus
  • subacromial bursa
  • acromioclavicular joint

Starting Position

This test is performed with the patient in sitting or standing. The patient’s arm is in neutral rotation.

Test Movement

In this position, the patient fully abducts their arm in the scapular plane.

Positive Test

The Painful Arc Test is considered positive for supraspinatus impingement if the patient reports pain between 60 degrees and 120 degrees of abduction. Pain should reduce after 120 degrees of abduction. If the patient instead reports pain at the end of abduction, acromioclavicular joint dysfunction is indicated.

Accuracy of Test

The Painful Arc Test for subacromial impingement is considered to be a fairly accurate test.

Video Demonstration

>> Return to the list of Orthopedic Tests of the Shoulder


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