Apprehension Test | Anterior Shoulder Instability Assessment
The shoulder joint has a tremendous degree of mobility, which renders it prone to instability. While muscle forces control stability in mid-ranges of motion, clinical instability presents itself at end range of motion. The instability becomes apparent when a patient has apprehension or, fear of subluxation, at the end range of motion.
The shoulder apprehension test has a sensitivity of 65.6% and specificity of 95.4% according to Hegedus et al. (2012) and has a strong clinical value for including or confirming anterior instability.
To conduct the test, the patient is in supine position with the side to be examined close to the edge of the bench. The patient’s shoulder is then brought into 90° of abduction. The patient is instructed to voice any apprehension or fear of subluxation to the examiner during the test. Subsequently, the examiner carefully brings the shoulder into more and more external rotation and is going to look for signs of apprehension by the patient.
In a positive test, the patient reports fear of luxation at greater ranges of external rotation.
Biomechanically it makes more sense to horizontally abduct the patient’s arm to have the head of the humerus glide anteriorly.
Other common tests to assess anterior glenohumeral joint instability are:
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