Yeoman’s Test

If you have a patient with lower back pain, perform the Yeoman’s Test to gauge if the pain is somewhere in the sacroiliac joint! Learn more about this test through this guide!

By Matt Olivares on Jul 15, 2024.


Fact Checked by Nate Lacson.

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What is the Yeoman’s Test?

Before discussing the , let’s talk briefly about Sacroiliitis. Sacroiliitis is an inflammation in the sacroiliac joint and is characterized by axial pain. This pain can be felt in the lower back or the buttocks. If this problem is left unattended for too long, it can develop into a problem where the pain becomes radicular and can affect the patient’s groin, one or both legs, and even their feet!

If you have a patient who sets up an appointment with you to consult about aches in the body, and they specifically talk to you about lower back pains, it would be prudent to ask them if they feel pain or if their pain is aggravated when doing the following:

  • Adjust their positions while in bed, like rolling over
  • Sitting up after lying down
  • Standing up from a sitting position
  • Standing up (especially for extended periods)
  • Bearing more weight on one leg
  • Walking (especially for extended periods)
  • Running (especially for extended periods)
  • Taking long strides while either walking or running
  • Climbing stairs

If they confirm that they feel pain or if the aforementioned activities aggravate their pain, then you should administer the Yeoman's Test to gauge the patient. This test is a physical examination technique designed to determine the possibility of Sacroiliitis in a person. It has a sensitivity of around 93%, and a specificity of around 89%, which makes it a viable option.

Check out this video to see how the Yeoman's Test is performed:

How to perform the Yeoman’s Test

Before you perform the Yeoman’s Test on a patient, you need to prepare one thing: a comfortable examination bed. This test requires the patient to lie down, and given that they are experiencing pain in their lower back, you want them to lie down on something comfortable to not cause any discomfort by simply lying down on it.

Once you have this prepared, do the following:

  • Have your patient lie in a prone position, so they have to be lying face down on the examination bed. You also have to make sure that their legs are straightened.
  • Once your patient is in position, you need to position yourself on the side of the patient where they feel pain.
  • Once you’re in position, place one of your hands on the sacroiliac joint area and apply a bit of pressure on it.
  • While applying pressure to the sacroiliac joint area, use your other hand to passively flex the knee to 90 degrees.
  • Keep the knee flexed and place the same hand you’re using to flex it underneath the knee.
  • Position the anterior aspect of your elbow right in front of the ankle so the knee doesn’t fall back down.
  • Once your hand and the anterior aspect of your elbow are in the right positions, you will extend the hip. You will do so by raising the knee. You will also do this while maintaining pressure on the sacroiliac joint.

Those are the steps that you need to follow to properly perform the Yeoman’s Test!

How to interpret the findings of the Yeoman’s Test

The Yeoman’s Test looks easy, right? Now, it’s time for you to know what exactly you need to look out for to determine the result of this physical examination test.

This test will determine if the patient feels pain or not when you extend the hip while applying pressure to the sacroiliac joint. If they feel pain, then the test is positive. If they don’t feel any pain at all, then it is negative.

Do note that even if the patient gets a positive result, that doesn’t mean the problem is confirmed. What this test does is that it confirms the possibility of a problem with the sacroiliac joint. The next step is to endorse the patient for a comprehensive examination that involves other tests because other problems might cause the pain they are feeling. Imaging tests will also confirm whether the problem is with the sacroiliac joint.

When is it best to conduct the Yeoman’s Test on a patient?

There are two appropriate times to conduct a Yeoman’s Test on a patient.

The first one is when a patient attends a consultation session with you, and complain about pains in their lower back. If they describe precisely what they are feeling and when they feel it (refer to the activities mentioned earlier in this guide), then that’s the time you should perform the Yeoman’s Test.

The other best time to conduct this test is during a comprehensive examination. Earlier, we mentioned that the next step after this test is to endorse the patient for a comprehensive examination. Sometimes, other tests serve as the preliminary tests, and the Yeoman’s Test is included as part of the next set of tests conducted on a patient.

This test is best included and performed as part of a comprehensive examination because the Yeoman’s Test on its own is not necessarily the best way to confirm problems in the sacroiliac joint or the lower back. The test confirms the possibility of Sacroiliitis because of the pain, not the Sacroiliitis itself. Other problems might cause Sacroiliitis or pain, such as degenerative arthritis, spondyloarthropathies, and more. Comprehensive examinations can confirm these, and the proper diagnoses can be made after.

Who can conduct the Yeoman’s Test, and for whom is it?

Since the Yeoman’s Test is a physical examination technique designed to gauge patients' lower back pain, this technique should only be performed by healthcare professionals highly trained in dealing with, analyzing, and treating musculoskeletal problems. So, the likes of orthopedists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, chiropractors, and rehabilitation specialists can perform this.

Despite the Yeoman’s Test instructions being simple and easy to pull off, the reason why only experts should be performing the technique is that it is for the lower back. If the lower back is impacted by something like Sacoiliitis or a similar issue, the patient’s capability to perform activities of daily living will be impacted.

The test involves pain because that is the indicator of a potential problem, and that will be used to determine if the patient is positive or negative for a potential lower back problem like Sacroiliitis. The aforementioned healthcare professionals can properly conduct this technique safely to elicit the necessary amount of pain to make a proper designation. If performed incorrectly, not only will you make the patient feel unnecessary pain or discomfort, you might even aggravate or worsen their lower back pain.

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What are the benefits of the Yeoman’s Test?

It can be accomplished rather quickly.

The Yeoman’s Test is non-invasive and it is a physical examination technique. This doesn’t require anything special from the healthcare professional. It only requires the professional’s two hands and a comfortable examination bed for the patient. This makes this test inexpensive.

The instructions are also simple enough to be accomplished easily and rather quickly. If the professional knows what they are doing well enough, they can finish this test in a minute or two. They will even get immediate results that can be shared with other team members so they can consider certain things while other tests are being conducted.

It can guide treatment decisions.

To extend the point about sharing results with other team members, doing so will help frame things for everyone else. Let’s say that your Yeoman’s Test gives the patient a positive designation. Your team members can keep this in mind and perform or conduct other tests to confirm that the patient has Sacroiliitis and determine if there are other problems in their lower back. Once an official diagnosis is made, the Yeoman’s Test results and other tests can be used to determine what exactly goes into a patient’s treatment plan. Do they simply need to rest and rehabilitate? Do they need surgery? If they need medicine, what specific medicine should they take and what dosage? These are just some of the questions that the results can answer.

It can be used to chck on a patient’s recovery progress.

Let’s stipulate that you already implemented a treatment plan for your patient and they have been following it. Let’s also stipulate that the plan involves rehabilitation and routine check-ups. This test can be performed during check-ups to gauge the patient's recovery progress.

Are they still feeling pain but not so much as the first time you conducted the test on them, or are they not feeling any pain at all? If the answer is “yes” to either question, the treatment plan is likely effective, so you should keep it up until they fully recover!

If the patient is still feeling the same more intense level of pain, you might want to adjust your plan or overhaul it to see if whatever changes you make will work better.

Is the Yeoman’s Test even reliable, considering it can’t be used as the sole assessment to confirm a lower back problem?
Is the Yeoman’s Test even reliable, considering it can’t be used as the sole assessment to confirm a lower back problem?

Commonly asked questions

Is the Yeoman’s Test even reliable, considering it can’t be used as the sole assessment to confirm a lower back problem?

Yes. It is reliable because it can identify the possibility of a certain problem. It wouldn’t be included in comprehensive examinations if it didn’t produce valid results. By identifying a problem, other tests that are part of the comprehensive examination can confirm what the problem is specifically.

How long does it normally take to accomplish this test?

The instructions are simple and easy to perform, so it should only take a minute or two to complete. As soon as the patient mentions they feel or don’t feel any pain when you extend the hip, you can end the test because that will determine the designation you will give.

Is the Yeoman’s Test painful?

In a way, yes. The Yeoman’s Test relies on pain in the lower back or sacroiliac joint to determine if the patient is positive or negative for possible Sacroiliitis or another lower back problem. But whatever pain the patient will feel will be caused by the pain that they’ve been experiencing in the first place. But given that this test involves pain, the professional performing it should be mindful and gentle when performing the test to avoid aggravating or worsening it.

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