Shoulder Examination

Shoulder complaints are fairly common presentations to A&E, general practice as well as orthopaedic clinics.  Common acute problems include fractures and dislocation of the shoulder joint and rotator cuff injuries.  Common chronic problems include frozen shoulder and arthritis.

The shoulder examination, along with all other joint examinations, is commonly tested on in OSCEs.  You should ensure you are able to perform this confidently.

The examination of all joints follows the general pattern of “look, feel, move” as well as occasionally special tests, in which this station has many.

Subject steps

  1. Once all of these movements have been performed actively, you should perform them passively and feel for any crepitus whilst moving the joints

  2. Allow the patient to dress and thank them.  Wash your hands and report your findings to the examiner

  3. An extension to this station could be to assess the rotator cuff muscles individually, you should therefore be aware how to do this.