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July 29, 2022

Shoulder Impingement Test: Physical Exams That Help Diagnose Injury

Physical therapists test the severity of a shoulder impingement

Shoulder impingement is a painful condition. It happens when the tendons and soft tissues around your shoulder joint become trapped between the top of your upper arm bone (the humerus) and the acromion, a bony projection that extends upward from your scapula (shoulder blade).

People whose jobs require a lot of heavy lifting and carrying are more at risk for developing this condition. People who play sports, such as tennis players and swimmers, are also at risk. These injuries are common enough among swimmers that the condition is sometimes called “swimmer’s shoulder.”

When the soft tissues are squeezed, they can become irritated or even tear, causing you pain and limiting your ability to move your arm properly.

If left untreated, a shoulder impingement injury can grow worse. If the muscle is under too much stress, it may result in a rotator cuff tear.



How severe is my shoulder impingement injury?


Determining how severe your injury is will help your therapist choose the best plan for your physical therapy. There are a number of ways a physical therapist can test for the severity of a shoulder impingement. Your therapist may employ one of these shoulder impingement tests:


Hawkins test


A physical therapist stretches the patient’s arm straight outward, before bending the elbow inward 90 degrees and then gently rotating the arm toward the body. Normally, if the patient experiences pain when the arm is rotated, then the patient likely has a shoulder impingement injury.


Neer’s sign test


In this test, a physical therapist will stabilize the patient’s wrist, making sure their palm is facing away from the sides of their body. Slowly, the arm will be extended and lifted over the head. Pain resulting from this movement is indicative of a shoulder impingement injury.


Jobe test


The patient will stretch their arm out horizontally. They will then rotate their wrist toward the center of their body. The physical therapist will check to see if the patient can keep their arm raised, and if they can keep it raised while downward pressure is put upon it. If this proves painful or impossible, this means that the patient likely suffers from a shoulder impingement injury.

The levels of pain, stiffness or lack of mobility experienced by the patient during these tests can help physical therapists determine the severity of the shoulder impingement injury. 


How Can physical therapy help with shoulder impingement injury?


Health Plus Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Center, Edison, NJ can help you manage the pain that comes from a shoulder impingement injury. We use proven techniques to aid you in reducing pain, improving your flexibility and building your strength.

Schedule a free screening at our clinics, and we will help you create a physical therapy plan that is specifically tailored to your needs.

Contact our team today for more information about treatment for shoulder impingement or to schedule an initial appointment. 

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