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 actually 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 (AC) Shear Test
  • Adson’s Maneuver
  • Allen’s Test
  • Anterior Drawer Test
  • Apley’s Scratch Test
  • Apprehension Test (Anterior and Posterior)
  • Brachial Plexus Stretch Test
  • Biceps Load Test
  • Clunk Test
  • Crank Test
  • Cross-Over Impingement Test
  • Drop Arm Test
  • Empty Can (Supraspinatus) Test
  • Feagin Test
  • French Horn Test
  • Grind Test
  • Hawkins Test / Hawkins-Kennedy Impingement Test
  • Jobe Relocation Test
  • Load and Shift Test
  • Ludington’s Sign
  • Neer Impingement Test
  • O’Brien Test
  • Pectoralis Major Contracture Test
  • Piano Key Sign
  • Posterior Drawer Test
  • Roos Test
  • Shoulder Abduction Test
  • Speed’s Test / Speed’s Maneuver
  • Sternoclavicular (SC) Joint Stress Test
  • Sulcus Sign
  • Yergason Test
  • Yocum Test
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