Scaphoid Shift Test

Assess the integrity of the patient’s scapholunate ligament using a Scaphoid Shift Test. Click here for a free template and a guide on how to use it.

By Patricia Buenaventura on May 15, 2024.

Fact Checked by RJ Gumban.

Use Template

What is a Scaphoid Shift?

A , also known as the Watson Test, is a provocative test or maneuver that examines the integrity and dynamic stability of the wrist, specifically the scapholunate ligament, and the state of the adjoining articular cartilage. It is one of the many assessments used to help diagnose scapholunate interosseous ligament instability (SLIL).

Much like particular physical exam tests, there are no standardized templates provided for this test. However, for your benefit and ease, we’ve created a Scaphoid Shift template just for you. You can use this as a guide, reference, and document to write down your patient’s results.

To give you an idea of what you can expect to see in our template, here’s a list of the content:

  • Basic information like the examination date, name of the patient, and name of the examiner
  • 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 or findings

Thinking of utilizing the scaphoid shift test? Keep reading for more information on:

  • How to download and use the template
  • When to use the scaphoid shift test
  • Benefits of using a template
  • Research and evidence on the use of the assessment

Check out this video to see how the Scaphoid Shift Test is performed:

Printable Scaphoid Shift Test

Download this Scaphoid Shift Test to assess the integrity of the patient’s scapholunate ligament

How Does it Work?

Download the Template

You can access and download the template by doing either of the following:

  • Clicking the “Download Template” or “Use this Template” button above
  • Searching for the “Scaphoid Shift test” in Carepatron’s template library on our website or app

Conduct the Test

As a first step, it’s important to fill out the basic information needed, such as the patient’s name, your name, and the date of the exam. It’s only then should you proceed to follow the test instructions. 

For good measure and to help you with your mental preparation, we’ve written down the step-by-step directions that you can also find on our template. 

  1. Have your patient in a sitting position facing you. Their elbow must be flexed and supported by a table while their forearm and hand are pointing up. The position is similar to an arm wrestling position.
  2. Wrap your hand around the patient’s wrist. Your thumb must be on the patient's scaphoid, palm side.
  3. Place some pressure on their scaphoid.
  4. Using your other hand, grasp the patient’s metacarpals, palm side. You will use this hand to move the wrist.
  5. Bend the hand towards you, then extend it.
  6. Afterward, radially deviate the wrist.
  7. Finally, release the pressure your thumb is placing on the patient’s scaphoid. 


Once finished with the test, you may move on with recording the patient’s results and write down your findings. Here’s the test result interpretation guide you will also find on our template:

(+) Positive Test if:

  • Symptomatic pain is reproduced.
  • A “click”, “snap”, or “thunk” can be felt or heard upon thumb removal.

(-) Negative Test if:

  • No pain was felt by the patient.
  • Radial deviation is limited.
  • The scaphoid pushes back on the thumb during deviation. 

Proceed with Further Testing 

Whichever the result may be, it’s best to have them undergo further testing before formulating a diagnosis. Some tests that can produce clear results are X-ray, MRI, radioscopy, and fluoroscopy. 

Scaphoid Shift Test Example (Sample)

Check out our example of a filled-out Scaphoid Shift Test template. Hopefully, you will have an idea of how this assessment may look completed. 

For an offline copy, you can use a reference in the future; click the sample below or click the “Download Example PDF” button above.

Download this Scaphoid Shift Test Example (Sample) here:

Scaphoid Shift Test Example (Sample)

Scoring Guide

To score the Scaphoid Shift test, simply tick the negative or positive checkbox based on the corresponding interpretation.

When would You Use this Test? 

Practitioners can utilize the Scaphoid Shift Test when the patient shares that they’re feeling pain in their wrist, especially in the area where the scaphoid is located. They may base their decision to assess on the patient’s exhibiting symptoms or if they’ve done something that may have caused a scaphoid ligament tear. 

To help you out, you may refer to the symptoms and causes we’ve provided below:


You may utilize the Scaphoid Shift test as a preliminary assessment if the patient:

  • Fell and used their wrist to support them 
  • Suddenly added a heavy load on the wrist
  • Bent their wrist backward or into an unusual position
  • Has been dealing with inflammation for a while
  • Has chronic gout
  • Is tending to a distal radius or carpal fracture


Conduct the test on your patient if they are experiencing the symptoms of a tear, such as:

  • Wrist weakness
  • Popping or grinding feeling
  • Bruising
  • Limited range of motion
  • Pain when the wrist is bent backward
  • Pain and swelling at the wrist’s back side, which has been worsening over several days

Do note that a patient may only notice a problem in their wrist years after an injury. So, it’s best to ask your patient when they were injured. 

Research & Evidence

According to several research papers, the Scaphoid Shift test can be a preliminary test to identify, confirm, and diagnose scapholunate ligament tears that can worsen and become scapholunate interosseous ligament instability (SLIL). However, it cannot be used as the sole basis.

On a brighter note, however, the test is still useful because:

  • According to Valdez (2013), it has enough clinical value to rule out scapholunate ligament tears despite having a low value to confirm it.
  • According to Park (2003), the test may still confirm suspicions of scaphoid instability, especially if the patient gets a positive test result due to pain.
  • According to Wolfe (1997), positive test results can still be used as a confirmation to  conduct a fluoroscopy on the patient. 
  • According to Wolfe (1994), the test can give practitioners an idea of the severity of the displacement based on the stiffness of the patient’s wrist while it’s being radially deviated. 

Why use Carepatron as your Scaphoid Shift app?

Beyond being a software where you can get the guide and template of the Scaphoid Shift test, Carepatron is also a leading practice management software where you can streamline business and clinical processes and automate administrative tasks. Utilize Carepatron’s features, aside from the customization feature for editing the Scaphoid shift test, to make the most out of your time and effort so that most of your focus goes toward patient care.

Sign up and download our application on your desktop or iOs/Android gadgets, and you’ll have access to the following tools and resources for free:

  • Over 100 downloadable, digitally editable, and printable templates in PDF form. Choose from the available forms, surveys, tests, assessments, and other medical documents. You can even make your own if you can’t find what you need.
  • A secure EHR system that’s HIPAA-compliant for all your client’s medical records and your digital notes.
  • Multiple scheduling and telehealth software applications integrated right into the platform
  • An automated payment system you can set up for your client

Don’t miss out on your chance to reap the benefits and efficiently accomplish your tasks on Carepatron today!

Physical Therapy Software


Park M. J. (2003). Radiographic observation of the scaphoid shift test. The Journal of bone and joint surgery. British volume, 85(3), 358–362.

Valdes, K., & LaStayo, P. (2013). The value of provocative tests for the wrist and elbow: a literature review. Journal of hand therapy : official journal of the American Society of Hand Therapists, 26(1), 32–43.

Wolfe, S. W., Gupta, A., & Crisco, J. J., 3rd (1997). Kinematics of the scaphoid shift test. The Journal of hand surgery, 22(5), 801–806.

Wolfe, S. W., & Crisco, J. J. (1994). Mechanical evaluation of the scaphoid shift test. The Journal of hand surgery, 19(5), 762–768.

Who developed Scaphoid Shift Test?
Who developed Scaphoid Shift Test?

Commonly asked questions

Who developed Scaphoid Shift Test?

It was developed and described by Watson in March 1978.

How to perform the Scaphoid Shift test?

You can perform the Scaphoid shift test by following the instructions on the template. To access and download the template, please refer to the “How Does it Work” section above.

What is the reliability of the Scaphoid Shift test?

According to several research studies, it is somewhat reliable not as a sole basis for diagnosis but as a preliminary test to prompt a practitioner to choose and conduct further tests on the patient.

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

One app for all your healthcare work