Elson Test

Check if your patient has a central slip injury using an Elson test. Click here for a free template and guide on how to use it.

By Patricia Buenaventura on Jun 20, 2024.

Fact Checked by Ericka Pingol.

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Elson Test PDF Example
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What is an Elson Test?

The is assessment that practitioners utilize to detect and, in certain situations, diagnose a central slip injury before it turns into a boutonniere deformity. It is most often used when an immediate examination of the central slip, the tendon in charge of allowing the patient’s proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joint to extend, is needed. If the injury is not promptly identified, diagnosed, or treated, there is not only a risk of it developing into a Boutonniere deformity, but it will also hinder the proper extension of the distal interphalangeal (DIP) joint.

Like other physical exam tests, no standardized template is available for this assessment.. However, for your benefit and ease, we’ve created an Elson Test template. Use this template as a guide, reference, and document to write down your patient’s results.

To provide you with an understanding of the content included in our template,, here is a list that outlines what you can expect:

  • Essential information like the assessment date, name of the patient, and name of the examiner
  • A diagram and step-by-step directions on conducting the test
  • A test result interpretation guide
  • A dedicated space where you can record your patient’s results and additional notes and findings

Check out this video to see a visual demonstration of the Elson Test:

Printable Elson Test

Download this Elson Test to check if your patient has a central slip injury.

How does this Elson’s Test Work?

Our free Elson Test template is quick and easy to use. Follow these steps to get started:

Step One. Access the Template

Access and download the template by either clicking the “Use this Template” or “Download Template” button above or searching for the “Elson Test” in Carepatron’s template library on our website or app.

Step Two. Conduct the Test

Before the test, it’s essential that you fill out the required basic information, such as the patient’s name, your name, and the assessment date. 

If you would like to review the instructions prior to downloading the test, we have provided written step-by-step directions that can also be found within our template:

  1. Have your patient’s hand rested on a table. The edge of the table must align with the middle joint or the proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joint.
  2. Place one of your fingers, preferably the pointer finger on the patient’s middle phalanx or the area between the proximal interphalangeal (PIP) - middle joint - and distal interphalangeal (DIP) joint - end joint.
  3. Keep your finger on the middle phalanx and ask your patient to extend their finger.

Step Three. Interpret and Do Further Testing

Once you have completed the test, proceed to document the patient's results and your findings. As an additional resource, we have included a copy of the test result interpretation guide from our template for your reference.

(+) Positive if:

  • You feel a weakness when the patient extends.
  • The finger past the DIP or end joint is hyperextended, rigid, or taut.

(-) Negative if:

  • The finger past the DIP joint or end joint is floppy when moved. 

After interpretation, it’s highly recommended that you have your patient undergo further testing to confirm the results of the test. 

Elson Test Scoring

To obtain an Elson Test score, simply tick the positive or negative checkbox according to your observed patient’s response to the test.

Elson Test Example (Sample)

Here’s an example of a filled-out Elson Test template. Hopefully, this will give you an idea of how this assessment may look when completed. 

Grab an offline copy you can use as a future reference by clicking the sample below or the “Download Example PDF” button above. 

Download this Elson Test Example (Sample) here:

Elson Test Example (Sample)

When to use this Elson assessment?

Practitioners can use the Elson assessment when a patient expresses concerns about pain located in any of their fingers. In addition, healthcare professionals may also consider administering this test if a patient displays symptoms or has engaged in activities that could potentially lead to a central slip injury.

For your reference, allow us to lend you a hand by providing a list of both below. 


  • A hard fall supported by a straightened finger on the ground or a flat surface causes a jammed finger
  • A sporting injury such as an accidental hit of sporting equipment against the tip of your finger that caused it to push it toward one’s hand
  • A deep cut on the proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joint
  • A dislocation of a fracture
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis 


  • Cannot entirely and actively extend the proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joint
  • Swollen, tender, or painful PIP joint
  • Forming of the Boutonniere Deformity

Who are these Elson Test PDF for?

Any practitioner who specializes in tendon, finger, or hand injuries is most likely to benefit from having a PDF copy of the Elson Test. To be more specific, these are the practitioners who will most likely utilize this test and our template in their practice:

  • Therapist
  • Physiologist
  • Orthopedic Doctor
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Benefits of Free Elson Test 

Easy to Understand 

The instructions for the Elson test are written in simple, accessible language, making them easy to comprehend and enabling any practitioner to perform the test with ease. Furthermore, the template includes clear labels and sections, facilitating seamless navigation for practitioners.

Quick to Administer

The Elson test is short and will only require a few minutes of your and your patient’s time. Its very nature makes it a test that’s quick to administer and even quicker to produce results for further testing.

Written Copies for Reference

As mentioned,, the test does not come with a pre-existing template. Hence, we have included a template to alleviate any concerns about forgetting the results. This will also reduce the need for other practitioners to frequently seek your guidance regarding the rationale behind your decisions or diagnoses.

Encourages Communication

Given that central slip injuries can have various causes, including those that may not be visible to the naked eye (such as internal factors), effective communication between practitioners and patients is crucial. The test and template can also encourage communication among practitioners since one cannot diagnose an injury solely from the Elson test. 

Fully Digital

Our template is fully digital which means you can edit and access the document on Carepatron or any local PDF editor on any of the gadgets you have on hand. Moreover, you can store it on Carepatron and give limited viewing access to relevant parties.

Why use this Elson Test app?

Apart from serving as a guide and template resource for the Elson Test, Carepatron is a leading practice management software that can be downloaded on desktop computers as well as iOS and Android mobile devices. By leveraging this software, you can access a comprehensive set of tools and resources that streamline your workflow, enabling you to allocate the majority of your time, effort, and focus toward delivering exceptional patient care.

Automate administrative tasks and streamline business and clinical processes with the following tools and resources you can access on Carepatron:

  • A wide variety of downloadable, digitally editable, and printable templates of forms, surveys, tests, assessments, and other medical documents. You can even produce your own templates and download them in PDF form.
  • A secure EHR system that’s HIPAA-compliant for your digital notes and client’s medical records.
  • Telehealth and scheduling software applications you can use right on the platform.
  • An automated payment system you can set up for your client.

Don’t miss out on accomplishing all responsibilities outside patient care efficiently and effortlessly by signing up at Carepatron today!

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How do you score on the Elson Test?
How do you score on the Elson Test?

Commonly asked questions

How do you score on the Elson Test?

You score an Elson test by simply ticking the positive or negative checkbox that matches your observed patient response to the test.

When to use an Elson Test?

You can use an Elson test when the patient mentions that they’re experiencing central slip injury symptoms on their hand, more specifically on their fingers. For more details, please refer to the “When to use this Elson assessment?” section above.

What is a positive Elson test?

Generally, a patient tests positive for the Elson test when you feel a weakness when the patient extends the affected finger or if the part past the DIP joint or end joint ends up being rigid/taut or hyperextended.

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