This site is intended for healthcare professionals

Go to /sign-in page

You can view 5 more pages before signing in

Clinical examination of the shoulder joint

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team


  • scars and sinuses
  • shoulder assymmetry, muscle wasting, winging, swelling
  • position of the arm, ie held internally rotated as in posterior shoulder dislocation


  • tenderness, crepitus
  • bony tenderness

Move - compare both sides:

  • active and full abduction: initiation, range, rhythm - note the arc of painful movement
  • active adduction, flexion, extension, internal and external rotation.
  • Test glenohumeral abduction passively, by pressing down and fixing the scapula with one hand and moving the arm with the other.
  • test complex movements by asking the patient to touch the back of their opposite shoulder with their arm in front, then behind them, then ask them to place their hands on the back of their neck.
  • test deltoid and pectoralis major power and also for winging of the scapula.

Click here for video of shoulder examination

Related pages

Create an account to add page annotations

Add information to this page that would be handy to have on hand during a consultation, such as a web address or phone number. This information will always be displayed when you visit this page

The content herein is provided for informational purposes and does not replace the need to apply professional clinical judgement when diagnosing or treating any medical condition. A licensed medical practitioner should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions.


Copyright 2024 Oxbridge Solutions Limited, a subsidiary of OmniaMed Communications Limited. All rights reserved. Any distribution or duplication of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited. Oxbridge Solutions receives funding from advertising but maintains editorial independence.