When a patient comes in with shoulder pain, there are numerous tests that a physician or physical therapist may utilize to help get to the bottom of the underlying issue. In this article, we are going to walk through some of the most common orthopedic tests that doctors and physical therapists use to determine whether a patient has a rotator cuff issue.
Empty Can Test
Providers use the empty can test to determine the strength of the patient’s supraspinatus muscle and tendon in the shoulder. During the exam, the patient stands and holds their arm straight out to the side and parallel to the floor. Then, the patient holds the thumb of the outstretched hand pointing down to the floor (mimicking the function of pouring our a can). The provider then applies a subtle downward resistance to the patient’s arm to test for strength.
Drop Arm Test
This simple test assesses the possibility of a rotator cuff tear. During the test, the patient (either sitting or standing) holds their arm straight out at a 90 degree angle, then slowly lowers the arm down to their side. The provider is looking for the patient’s ability to raise and lower the arm in a controlled manner. If the patient is unable to do so, or there is accompanying pain, there may be a rotator cuff issue.
This test determines whether or not there is an impingement of the patient’s rotator cuff. During the test the provider uses one hand to stabilize the scapula, and then applies passive forced flexion to the arm.
Edina Shoulder Rehab
OrthoRehab Specialists is the premier . Our Twin Cities physical therapists are leading experts in the treatment of shoulder and rotator cuff injuries. We offer direct access to physical therapy, and also have existing referral relationships with over 600 physicians who send their patients to us for continued care after a surgical procedure, or a shoulder injury. Contact us today at our Edina or Minneapolis physical therapy clinics to set up your evaluation and get on a rehabilitation program that fits your needs.
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