Which tests are performed for impingement signs in supraspinatus tendonitis?

Updated: Dec 04, 2017
  • Author: Thomas M DeBerardino, MD; Chief Editor: Sherwin SW Ho, MD  more...
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Special tests (impingement signs)

  • For the Neer test, the examiner forcefully elevates an internally rotated arm in the scapular plane, causing the supraspinatus tendon to be impinged against the anterior inferior acromion.

  • For the Hawkins-Kennedy test, the examiner forcefully internally rotates a 90° forwardly flexed arm, causing the supraspinatus tendon to be impinged against the coracoacromial ligamentous arch. Pain and a grimacing facial expression indicate impingement of the supraspinatus tendon, and this is a positive Neer/Hawkins-Kennedy impingement sign.

  • For the impingement test, the examiner injects 10 mL of a 1% lidocaine solution into the subacromial space and then repeats the tests for the impingement sign. Elimination or significant reduction of pain constitutes a positive impingement test result.

  • With the drop arm test, the patient places the arm in maximum elevation in the scapular plane and then lowers it slowly. The test can be repeated following subacromial injection of lidocaine. Sudden dropping of the arm suggests a rotator cuff tear.

  • With the supraspinatus isolation test/empty can test (ie, Jobe test), the supraspinatus may be isolated by having the patient rotate the upper extremity so that the thumbs are pointing to the floor and resistance is applied with the arms in 30° of forward flexion and 90° of abduction (simulates emptying of a can). The result is positive when weakness is present compared with the unaffected side, suggesting a disruption of the supraspinatus tendon.

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