Daily Bolus of LR: Supraspinatus Function and Testing

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February 11, 2011 by dailybolusoflr

Supraspinatus
·         Runs from the above the spine of the scapula (hence the name) to the greater tuberosity of the humerus.
·         Contraction allows the shoulder to abduct.
·         This is the most commonly damaged of the rotator cuff muscles.
Testing for Supraspinatus Injury
·         This test is also known as the “empty can test.  This mimics a motion of emptying the last drops out of a can.
·         Have the patient abduct their shoulder to 90 degrees, with 30 degrees forward flexion and full internal rotation (i.e. turned so that the thumb is pointing downward).
·         Direct them to forward flex the shoulder, without resistance.
·         Repeat while you offer resistance in a downward direction.
Interpreting the Test
·         Partial Tear
o   The patient will experience pain and perhaps some element of weakness with the above maneuver.
·         Complete tear
o   The patient will be prevented  from achieving any forward flexion
o   These patients will be unable to abduct their arm, and instead try to “shrug” it up using their deltoids to compensate.
Images and Testing nicely described in the following:
Am Fam Physician 2000;61:3079-88
Linda Regan, MD FACEP
Program Director, Emergency Medicine Residency

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