Shoulder Subluxation Tests

Optimize your Shoulder Subluxation Tests with Carepatron. Our globally compliant, user-friendly software simplifies test management for superior patient care.

By Telita Montales on Jul 05, 2024.


Fact Checked by Ericka Pingol.

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What is a Shoulder Subluxation Test?

A Shoulder Subluxation Test is a comprehensive clinical evaluation conducted by healthcare professionals to identify the presence of partial shoulder dislocation, also known as subluxation. In this condition, there's an incomplete or temporary dislocation of the shoulder joint where the head of the upper arm bone (humerus) partially slips out from the socket (glenoid) of the shoulder blade (scapula).

This condition is often associated with symptoms such as localized pain, muscle weakness, numbness, and a noticeable decrease in the range of shoulder movement. Tests are performed to diagnose this, including apprehension, relocation, and load and shift tests. Each of these tests involves specialized maneuvers of the arm and shoulder to evaluate joint stability and detect any abnormal movement that indicates a subluxation.

To better comprehend the procedure and execution of these tests, we've prepared an insightful explainer video that provides a visual demonstration. This video will guide you through the process, making it easier to understand the steps involved in each test.

For an in-depth understanding and step-by-step guidance on conducting these tests, we invite you to visit our page. Here, you'll find extensive information to help you better understand shoulder subluxation tests and their importance in diagnosing shoulder instability.

How does it work?

The Shoulder Subluxation Test is a systematic examination involving several steps designed to assess the stability and functionality of the shoulder joint effectively. Here's how it works: 

Step 1: Positioning the Patient

The first step involves positioning the patient so the healthcare provider can easily access and have a clear shoulder view. The patient may be asked to sit upright or lie down based on the type of test being performed and the patient's comfort. This step is crucial as it sets the foundation for the subsequent stages of the test.

Step 2: Execution of the Test

In this phase, the healthcare professional conducts the test by manipulating the shoulder in distinct ways or applying gentle pressure. This could involve rotating the arm in specific directions or exerting pressure at certain points. The professional meticulously observes the patient's reactions, especially any signs of discomfort and abnormal shoulder movement during these manipulations.

Step 3: Recording Observations and Findings

Upon performing the test, the healthcare provider documents their observations and findings. This includes noting any visible signs of shoulder subluxation, such as the abnormal motion of the shoulder, resistance to certain movements, or expressions of pain. Accurate recording of these observations is vital as it forms the basis of diagnosis and treatment planning.

Step 4: Interpretation of Results

The final step involves interpreting the results of the test. The healthcare professional evaluates the documented observations, determining whether they indicate shoulder subluxation. Common positive signs include visible abnormal shoulder movement, patient apprehension, or discomfort during the test.

Understanding each process step can make the experience more manageable for patients and ensure that healthcare professionals perform the test correctly and efficiently. To aid this understanding, we have prepared printable Shoulder Subluxation Tests for your reference. This document provides a detailed breakdown of the process and can guide patients and healthcare providers.

Shoulder Subluxation Tests Example (sample)

Let's delve into an illustrative example of the shoulder subluxation test, specifically the apprehension test, to understand better how these assessments are conducted in a real-world scenario.

In the apprehension test, the patient is positioned to lie down flat on their back. The examiner then gently holds the patient's arm and gradually rotates it externally while moving it away from the body, a motion known as abduction. 

The key observation during this test is the patient's response. If the patient shows apprehension or actively resists further movement due to discomfort or fear of dislocation, the test is positive for shoulder subluxation. This indicates that the shoulder joint may be unstable, suggesting a partial dislocation or risk.

We provide a sample of a filled-out Shoulder Subluxation Tests PDF to give you a clearer picture of a completed test. This document outlines the test steps, the observations made, and the final interpretation of the results. It is a practical reference for healthcare professionals conducting the test and helps ensure accuracy and consistency in the assessment process.

Download this Shoulder Subluxation Test Example:

Shoulder Subluxation Tests Example (sample)

When would you use this Form?

The Shoulder Subluxation Test Form is a valuable tool widely used by healthcare professionals, including physiotherapists, orthopedic surgeons, and sports medicine specialists. It's essential when patients present symptoms that suggest potential shoulder instability or injuries.

These tests are primarily employed when patients report acute or chronic pain, instability, or a shoulder sensation 'giving way' during certain activities. These could be signs of possible shoulder subluxation, necessitating comprehensive evaluation through these tests.

Athletes are often prone to shoulder injuries, given their high level of physical activity and strain on the body. Therefore, sports medicine specialists frequently use these tests to diagnose and manage potential shoulder subluxations in athletes. This allows for timely interventions and appropriate treatment plans, ensuring quick recovery and preventing further injuries.

Similarly, individuals who have experienced shoulder trauma, such as an accident or fall, are potential candidates for these tests. Orthopedic surgeons often use the Shoulder Subluxation Test Form to assess the extent of the injury and determine if a partial dislocation has occurred.

Moreover, these tests are also useful in persistent or recurrent shoulder pain, even without a known injury or trauma. Chronic shoulder pain can sometimes indicate a subtle subluxation that is not apparent in regular examinations. Healthcare professionals can accurately diagnose these conditions and initiate appropriate therapeutic interventions using the Shoulder Subluxation Test Form.


The Shoulder Subluxation Test Form offers numerous benefits, making it an invaluable tool in managing shoulder injuries. Here are some key advantages: 

Simplified and Fast Assessment

One of the primary benefits of these tests is their simplicity and speed. They provide a quick and straightforward method for assessing shoulder stability, eliminating the need for complex equipment or lengthy procedures. This makes them accessible and easy to incorporate into regular clinical practice. 

Facilitating Early Detection

These tests play a crucial role in the early detection of shoulder subluxation. Identifying this condition early can prevent further injury by allowing timely intervention. It also guides healthcare professionals in determining the most appropriate treatment methods, enhancing patient outcomes. 

Personalized Treatment Plans

The results derived from these tests are instrumental in developing a personalized treatment plan tailored to the patient's specific needs. For instance, if the tests indicate shoulder subluxate, the treatment plan may include shoulder subluxation exercises to strengthen the shoulder muscles and improve joint stability.

Tracking Recovery Progress

Another significant benefit of these tests is the ability to monitor the effectiveness of the treatment plan. Regular testing can track recovery progress, providing valuable insights into whether the current treatment approach works or if adjustments are needed.

Download our free Shoulder Subluxation Tests form to reap these benefits and conduct a comprehensive assessment. This resource offers a systematic approach to evaluating shoulder stability, contributing significantly to managing shoulder injuries.

Research & Evidence

The reliability and effectiveness of shoulder subluxation tests have been validated through numerous studies and research. These tests have proven valuable diagnostic tools in identifying shoulder instability and guiding subsequent treatment plans.

Research has consistently shown shoulder subluxation tests to be reliable tools for diagnosing shoulder instability. For instance, a study published in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy examined the reliability of clinical measurement of shoulder subluxation based on palpation. The results underscored the test's reliability, supporting its use in clinical practice.

Furthermore, another study highlighted the reliability of three methods used to evaluate changes in shoulder subluxation. The study involved thirty-six patients with shoulder subluxation, and each rater repeated her assessments on nine subjects to test the reliability of the methods. The findings reinforced the credibility of these tests as reliable measures of shoulder subluxation.

A separate study focused on a radiological measure of shoulder subluxation in hemiplegia patients. The research aimed to test the reliability and construct validity of the measure, which was found to discriminate effectively between readings taken of subluxated and non-subluxated shoulders. This study further validates the use of shoulder subluxation tests in clinical settings.

Moreover, evidence supporting the use of these tests extends beyond their reliability. Studies have demonstrated their effectiveness in identifying subluxations and guiding treatment plans. For instance, research on the effects of functional electrical stimulation on shoulder subluxation, arm function recovery, and shoulder pain in hemiplegic stroke patients indicated that shoulder subluxation tests could facilitate recovery by informing appropriate treatment interventions.

The body of research and evidence validates shoulder subluxation tests. They offer reliable assessment methods and contribute significantly to developing effective treatment plans for patients experiencing shoulder instability. This makes them invaluable tools in the field of healthcare.

Why use Carepatron as your Shoulder Subluxation Tests app?

Carepatron stands out as the optimal platform for managing and conducting Shoulder Subluxation Tests. Our software is designed to simplify practice management, enabling healthcare professionals to focus more on patient care and less on administrative tasks.

One of the key benefits of using Carepatron as your Shoulder Subluxation Tests app is its user-friendly interface. We understand that healthcare professionals must spend their time on patient care rather than learning to navigate complex software. That's why we've designed our platform to be intuitive and easy to use. No training is required, allowing you to start documenting, managing, and analyzing patient assessments immediately.

Our Shoulder Subluxation Tests software has advanced features that make it simple to record test results, track patient progress, and share findings with other healthcare providers. This streamlines the clinical documentation process, enabling you to manage patient data efficiently and effectively.

Additionally, Carepatron is globally compliant, meeting security requirements - including HIPAA, GDPR, & HITRUST. This ensures that your work is safe and secure, providing peace of mind and confidence in the integrity of patient data.

Moreover, our platform is built for collaboration. It facilitates better sharing across your team, professional network, and clients — just as easily as if everyone were in the same room. This promotes efficient communication and coordination, enhancing the overall quality of patient care.

Finally, Carepatron is a trusted global practice management system. We support a global community of users and work tirelessly to deliver a beautiful experience every day. By choosing Carepatron as your Shoulder Subluxation Tests app, you're aligning with a platform committed to excellence in healthcare practice management. Try Carepatron today!

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Who typically uses Shoulder Subluxation Tests?
Who typically uses Shoulder Subluxation Tests?

Commonly asked questions

Who typically uses Shoulder Subluxation Tests?

Physiotherapists, orthopedic surgeons, and sports medicine specialists typically use Shoulder Subluxation Tests.

When are Shoulder Subluxation Tests used?

Shoulder Subluxation Tests are used when a patient presents with shoulder pain or instability, particularly after a shoulder injury or trauma.

How are Shoulder Subluxation Tests used?

Shoulder Subluxation Tests involve specific movements of the arm and shoulder to assess stability and identify any abnormal motion. The healthcare professional observes the patient's reactions and any abnormal movement in the shoulder.

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