Survey on Knowledge, Use, and Diagnostic Applicability of Special Tests for Rotator Cuff Involvement in Clinical Practice.
Forbush SW, Bandy WD, Back-Kremers GL, Renfroe M, Downey HF.
Background: Recently, researchers have commented that shoulder special tests cannot identify the structure causing rotator cuff symptoms and should only be considered pain provocation tests. Others have disagreed, reporting that special tests were able to accurately detect the presence of rotator cuff involvement.
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine the knowledge, use, and perceived effectiveness of 15 selected special tests utilized to examine patients with possible rotator cuff dysfunction.
Study Design: Descriptive study using survey.
Methods: An electronic survey was returned by 346 members of the Academies of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy through list serves. Descriptions and pictures for 15 special tests of the shoulder were included in the survey. Information regarding years of clinical experience and American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS) specialist certification in Sports or Orthopedics was collected. Respondents were asked if they could identify and use the special tests to evaluate dysfunction of the rotator cuff - and how confident they were in ability of the tests to diagnose dysfunction of the rotator cuff.
Results: The four tests most readily known by respondents included the empty can, drop arm, full can, and Gerber’s tests, and the four tests used regularly by the respondents included the infraspinatus, full can, supraspinatus, and champagne toast tests. The infraspinatus, champagne toast, external rotation lag (ERLS), and the belly-off tests were found to be the be most useful for establishing a diagnosis of the muscle-tendon complex involved. Years of experience and clinical specialization was not relevant to knowledge or use or these tests.
Conclusions: This study will allow clinicians and educators to understand which special tests are easily identified, regularly used, and perceived as helpful for the diagnosis of muscles involved in a rotator cuff dysfunction.
Level of Evidence: 3b