Shoulder – Orthopedic Tests

Common Shoulder Tests in Orthopedic Examination

The following is a list of the many common tests used by physical therapists and other orthopedic practitioners when examining the shoulder. Some of the tests have links to descriptions of the tests as well as video demonstrations. If you know of a test that should be included in this list, please let us know.

Over the years many special tests have been developed for the shoulder. There are likely more orthopedic tests for the shoulder than any other area of the body. Perhaps this is because the shoulder joint is so mobile for such a large “joint”.

Because of it’s great mobility and range of motion (ROM) the shoulder girdle is very prone to instability. As a result, many of these tests are related to testing the stability of the shoulder. Another common problem that many of these tests address is impingement or compressions of structures underneath the bony prominences of the shoulder. There are also tests that focus on stressing the various soft tissues of the shoulder including nerves, ligaments, tendons and muscles.

There are multiple joints that make up the shoulder complex. Different tests focus on the different joints. The largest joint in the shoulder is the glenohumeral joint. However, other joints targeted by the below tests include the A-C or acromioclavicular joint and the S-C or sternoclavicular joint. The articulation of the shoulder blade or ‘scapula’ with the rib cage is also considered a joint and is targeted by some of the special tests.

Orthopedic Special Tests for the Shoulder Girdle

  • Acromioclavicular (AC) Joint Distraction Test – acromioclavicular joint pathology
  • Acromioclavicular (AC) Shear Test – acromioclavicular joint pathology
  • Adson’s Maneuver – Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
  • Allen Test – for vascular insufficiency
  • Anterior Drawer Test – for anterior instability
  • Anterior Slide Test / Keibler Test – for SLAP lesions
  • Apley’s Scratch Test – ROM/rotator cuff pathology
  • Apprehension Test – anterior instability
  • Brachial Plexus Stretch Test – cervical facet joint impingement
  • Biceps Load Test – superior glenoid labrum pathology
  • Clunk Test – joint stability / labrum lesion
  • Crank Test – anterior instability
  • Cross-Over Impingement Test  – a-c joint or rotator cuff pathology
  • Drop Arm Test – rotator cuff pathology
  • Empty Can (Supraspinatus) Test – rotator cuff pathology
  • Feagin Test – inferior joint stability
  • French Horn Test  – rotator cuff pathology
  • Full Can Test – supraspinatus pathology
  • Gerber’s Lift Off Test  – rotator cuff (subscapularis)
  • Grind Test – glenoid labrum pathology
  • Hawkins Test / Hawkins-Kennedy Impingement Test – rotator cuff pathology
  • Hyper Extension-Internal Rotation (HERI) Test – anterior instability
  • Jobe Relocation Test – anterior instability
  • Load and Shift Test – anterior and posterior instability
  • Ludington’s Sign – long head of biceps pathology
  • Neer Impingement Test – rotator cuff pathology
  • O’Brien’s Test – glenoid labrum / a-c joint pathology
  • Painful Arc Test – impingement of the supraspinatus tendon and/or subacromial bursa beneath the acromion
  • Pectoralis Major Contracture Test – pectoralis major muscle contracture
  • Piano Key Sign / Test – acromioclavicular joint pathology
  • Posterior Drawer Test – posterior instability
  • Roos Test – thoracic outlet syndrome
  • Scarf Test (Cross Arm Adduction Test) – acromioclavicular joint pathology
  • Shoulder Abduction Test – cervical facet joint impingement
  • Speed’s Test / Speed’s Maneuver – long head of biceps pathology
  • Sternoclavicular (SC) Joint Stress Test – sternoclavicular joint pathology
  • Sulcus Sign – inferior instability
  • Yergason’s Test – biceps tendon or glenoid labrum
  • Yocum’s Test – rotator cuff pathology

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