Bear Hug Test – Subscapularis

The Bear Hug Test is commonly used in orthopedic examinations to test for a tear in subscapularis tendon or subscapularis tendonitis. It can also show scapular instability. Read more about rotator cuff tears.

Anatomy of the Shoulder Complex
Shoulder diagram including the subscapularis muscle
National Institute Of Arthritis And Musculoskeletal And Skin Diseases (NIAMS); SVG version by Angelito7, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Involved Structures

  • subscapularis

Starting Position

This test is usually performed with the patient in sitting. The patient’s arm is placed with the open hand of the affected side placed just in front of the shoulder on the opposite site.

Test Movement

In this position, the examiner attempts to pull the affected arm forward, away from the patient’s chest/shoulder as the patient attempts to resist the movement.

Positive Test

The Bear Hug Test is considered positive if the patient has significant weakness and/or pain.

Accuracy of Test

The Bear Hug Test for integrity of the subscapularis is considered to have very high sensitivity and negative predictive value. Sensitivity 75%, specificity 56%, positive predictive value 62%, negative predictive value 70% and accuracy 65%.

Reference: CLINICAL DIAGNOSIS OF SUBSCAPULARIS TENDON TEAR USING THE BEAR HUG SEMIOLOGICAL MANEUVER

Video Demonstration

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

Other tests for rotator cuff pathology:


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