Adson’s Test

Learn what the Adson’s Test is and how it can be used to diagnose thoracic outlet syndrome. Download a free PDF guide and example to get started.

By Ericka Pingol on May 15, 2024.

Fact Checked by Nate Lacson.

Use Template

What is an Adson’s Test?

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS) is caused by compression of the nerves, arteries, and veins between the base of your neck and your armpit. It’s also sometimes associated with injury to muscles in the shoulder or neck.

Several factors, including poor posture, genetics, and trauma, can cause this painful congenital disorder. It can also be aggravated by certain activities like weightlifting or carrying heavy bags on one shoulder. TOS is often misdiagnosed as carpal tunnel syndrome because the symptoms may be similar. However, TOS usually involves more than hand issues—you may experience tingling, numbness, and pain in the shoulder, arm, and even fingers.

Healthcare professionals use to help diagnose TOS. In this test, the patient's arm is placed in certain positions, and the doctor checks for signs of nerve compression or reduced blood flow. If the test is positive, further tests may be needed to confirm or rule out TOS.

The Adson's Test can also be used to determine whether or not the patient's symptoms are due to compression of the thoracic outlet. This is done by isolating individual nerves and evaluating the patient's response.

Printable Adson’s Test

Download Adson’s Test to assess for thoracic outlet syndrome

How does this Adson's Test work?

Our free Adson's Test template provides comprehensive instructions to help you perform the exam quickly and accurately. Follow these steps to get started:

Step One: Access the template

Download a copy of the test using the link on this page. You can also access it using the Carepatron app or our resources library.

Step Two: Explain how the test works

Discuss the Adson's Test with your patient and explain what it is and how it works. Ensure to address any concerns they may have before proceeding.

Step Three: Perform the assessment

Ask the patient to sit and then follow the instructions listed on the template. Observe for signs of pain, numbness, tingling, or reduced muscle strength.

Step Four: Record the results

Document the patient's responses and other notes from the exam on the template. You can use this data to inform your diagnosis.

Adson's Test Interpretation

The Adson's Test can be used to determine whether or not the patient's symptoms are due to thoracic outlet syndrome. The test is considered positive if there are signs of reduced blood flow, neurological symptoms, or muscle weakness when the arm is placed in certain positions. It is negative if there is no change in the patient's condition.

It is important to interpret the results of the Adson's Test in conjunction with other tests and examinations. Other diagnostic tools, such as imaging or nerve conduction studies, may help confirm TOS.

Adson's Test example (sample)

We have designed an Adson's Test example you can use for educational purposes or as a reference. This sample illustrates how to write down findings after performing the exam. You can view it here or download it as a PDF.

Download the free Adson's Test example (sample)

Adson's Test example (sample)

When to use these Adsons assessments?

The Adson's Test is generally recommended when a patient reports symptoms suggestive of TOS, such as tingling or numbness in the arm or shoulder. You can also use this to:

Confirm or rule out a diagnosis of TOS

You can use the Adson's Test to confirm a thoracic outlet syndrome diagnosis or rule it out if other tests have returned negative.

Monitor the progress of a patient's TOS treatment

The Adson's Test is a fantastic tool for tracking a patient's improvement. By comparing the results of their initial assessment to those taken at follow-up visits, you can gauge how well their treatment plan is working.

Identify the cause of a patient's symptoms

Adson's Test can also help narrow down the cause of a patient's pain or other symptoms. Performing this test and other diagnostic tests can provide more comprehensive results and help you better inform your diagnosis and treatment plan.

Determine if the patient's condition is worsening

You can administer this exam periodically to check if the patient's condition worsens. This allows you to take prompt action and adjust their treatment plan as necessary.

Benefits of these free Adson Test Templates

This Adson's Test template can help you quickly and accurately assess a patient's condition. It also offers a range of benefits, such as:

It's entirely digital

You don't have to worry about carrying or misplacing paper forms. Plus, you can quickly and easily share the results with other healthcare professionals.

It's interactive

The template provides helpful guidance to ensure you don't miss any important steps during the exam. You can be confident that you have followed the correct procedure.

It's customizable

The template can be tailored to meet your specific needs, allowing you to make it as comprehensive or concise as necessary.

It's easy to use

This free worksheet is designed so that it can be used by both experienced and novice practitioners. It's simple and intuitive, and you can get started right away.

Why use this Adsons app?

Managing a busy physical therapy practice can be a challenge. With Carepatron's practice management software, you can keep track of all your patients, appointments, and payments in one place - no more sifting through paper files or trying to remember important details!

From appointment scheduling to billing and insurance claims processing, we got you covered. Our user-friendly interface lets you quickly find the information you need and make changes on the fly. Plus, our secure, cloud-based system ensures that all your patient data is safe, secure, and always available.

Whether running a single-physician practice or a larger facility with hundreds of employees, Carepatron has everything you need to streamline your workflow and keep your patients happy.

Try out our revolutionary practice management platform today and start getting more done with less stress! You'll be amazed at how quickly your practice is up and running.

Physical Therapy Software
How to use the Adson's Test?
How to use the Adson's Test?

Commonly asked questions

How to use the Adson's Test?

To administer this exam, you must engage the patient in several movements and note their responses. Begin by having them sit in a chair, relaxed at their sides, and feet flat on the floor. Then, have them rotate their head toward one shoulder, then the other. Next, have them inhale deeply and hold their breath as they extend their neck away from the side being tested.

How to score the Adson's Test?

This assessment tool doesn't have a scoring system, but you can interpret the results by noting changes in the patient's symptoms during the exam. If there is a decrease in their symptoms, this indicates that TOS may be present.

What are the benefits of the Adson's Test?

The Adson's Test is a valuable diagnostic tool that can be used to quickly and accurately assess a patient's condition. It can help confirm or rule out TOS and track the progress of a patient's treatment plan.

Join 10,000+ teams using Carepatron to be more productive

One app for all your healthcare work