Anterior Shoulder Instability Clinical Examination [Physical Therapist Guide to Diagnosis]

By dpope2020

April 26, 2024

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Anterior Shoulder Instability Clinical Examination [Physical Therapist Guide to Diagnosis]

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In today's video we go over Anterior Shoulder Instability Clinical Examination [Physical Therapist Guide to Diagnosis]: 

Key takeaways for PTs:

  • How to differentiate laxity from instability
  • Mechanisms of injury leading to instability
  • Importance of history taking and age considerations
  • Performing a thorough range of motion assessment
  • Special tests to assess instability (apprehension, relocation, etc.)******


  • 0:00 - Intro
  • 0:10 - Instability vs. Laxity
  • 0:44 - Dislocation vs. Subluxation
  • 1:15 - Bankart Lesions After Traumatic Dislocation
  • 2:04 - Acquired Instability
  • 2:33 - Multidirectional Instability
  • 2:58 - Importance of a good diagnosis
  • 3:29 - Who is most predisposed to injuries
  • 5:10 - Age in relation to prognosis and plan of care
  • 6:25 - Anterior shoulder instability / laxity testing
  • 7:30 - Assessing ROM for apprehension
  • 9:32 - Anterior apprehension test
  • 10:12 - Relocation test
  • 10:34 - Release test
  • 11:35 - Anterior load test
  • 11:58 - Anterior jerk test
  • 12:25 - Anterior drawer test

Don't dislocate your patient's shoulder...


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  1. Novakofski KD, Melugin HP, Leland DP, Bernard CD, Krych AJ, Camp CL. Nonoperative management of anterior shoulder instability can result in high rates of recurrent instability and pain at long-term follow-up. J Shoulder Elbow Surg. 2022 Feb;31(2):352-358. doi: 10.1016/j.jse.2021.07.016. Epub 2021 Aug 25. PMID: 34454036.
  2. Duethman NC, Bernard CD, Leland D, Wilbur RR, Krych AJ, Dahm DL, Barlow JD, Camp CL. Multiple Instability Events at Initial Presentation Are the Major Predictor of Failure of Nonoperative Treatment for Anterior Shoulder Instability. Arthroscopy. 2021 Aug;37(8):2432-2439. doi: 10.1016/j.arthro.2021.03.047. Epub 2021 Mar 31. PMID: 33812027; PMCID: PMC8985112.
  3. Lizzio VA, Meta F, Fidai M, Makhni EC. Clinical Evaluation and Physical Exam Findings in Patients with Anterior Shoulder Instability. Curr Rev Musculoskelet Med. 2017 Dec;10(4):434-441. doi: 10.1007/s12178-017-9434-3. PMID: 29043566; PMCID: PMC5685956.