Subacromial Impingement Cluster

Original Editor - Stacy Callow

Top Contributors - Stacy Callow, Kai A. Sigel, Wanda van Niekerk and Selena Horner  


To test for the presence of subacromial impingement

Tests for Subacromial Impingement[1][2]

Hawkins-Kennedy: SN:  .63 (.39–.86) SP:  .62 (.46–.77) +LR:  1.63 (.94–2.81)

  • Testing:  Shoulder is flexed to 90 degrees and then internally rotated with elbow flexed to 90 degrees.
  • Positive Test:  Pain with IR.

Neer: SN:  .81 (.62–1.0) SP:  .54 (.38–.69) +LR:  1.76 (1.17–2.66)

  • Testing:  Examiner stablizers scapula and flexes shoulder until pain is felt or end of ROM.
  • Positive Test:  Pain with flexion

Painful arc:  SN:   .75 (.54–.96) SP:  .67 (.52–.81) +LR:  2.25 (1.33–3.81)

  • Testing:  Shoulder is elevated in scapular plane abduction to full elevation and then lowered in same motion.
  • Positive Test:  Pain or pain from 60 to 120 degrees scapular plane abduction 

Empty can (Jobe):  SN:  .50 (.26–.75) SP:  .87 (.77–.98) +LR:  3.90 (1.50–10.12)

  • Testing:  Shoulder abducted to 90 degrees and slightly adducted.  Shoulder internally rotated and downward force applied.
  • Positive Test:  Pain or inability to maintain abduction.

External rotation resistance: SN:  .56 (.32–.81) SP:  .87 (.77–.98) +LR:  4.39 (1.74–11.07) .50

  • Testing:  Elbow flexed to 90 degrees and adducted to trunk with neutral rotation.  Medially directed force applied.
  • Positive Test:  Pain or weakness

Cross-body adduction test:  SN:  .23  SP:  .82 

  • Testing:  Shoulder is elevated to 90 degrees and adducted across body.
  • Positive Test:  Pain with adduction

Drop arm sign:  SN:  .27  SP:  .88

  • Testing:  Shoulder is elevated to full flexion and asked to slowly lower.
  • Positive Test:  Severe pain or inability to slowly lower.



If three of the following test are positive:  Hawkins-Kennedy, neer, painful arc, empty can, and external rotation resistance then SN:  .75 (.54–.96) SP:  .74 (.61–.88) +LR:  2.93 (1.60–5.36) -LR:  .34 (.14–.80)[1]

If Painfui arc sign, Drop-arm sign, Infraspinatus muscle test positive the +LR:  15.57 of full thickness rotator cuff tear[2] 

If Hawkins-Kennedy impingement sign, Painfui arc sign, Infraspinatus muscle test positive then +LR:  10.56 of some type of impingement present[2]

Recent Related Research (from Pubmed)


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  1. 1.0 1.1 Michener LA, Walsworth MK, Doukas WC, Murphy KP. Reliability and diagnostic accuracy of 5 physical examination tests and combination of tests for subacromial impingement. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2009 Nov;90(11):1898-903.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Park HB, Yokota A, Gill HS, El Rassi G, McFarland EG. Diagnostic accuracy of clinical tests for the different degrees of subacromial impingement syndrome. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2005 Jul;87(7):1446-55.
  3. Physiotutors. Subacromial Pain Syndrome Cluster | SAPS. Available from: