How to Make a Diagnosis of Your Shoulder Pain

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The shoulder joint is a vulnerable joint; it is actually one of the most vulnerable joints of the body that it is a wonder that more injuries do not take place. Healthy shoulders indicate keenness in strengthening them. If your shoulders are unhealthy, then it means that you are failing to strengthen your shoulders.

Source: New Health Advisor

If you are suffering from shoulder pain during your workouts, then you need to find out the main cause. You should do this by performing several tests to investigate why your shoulders are in pain. It is advisable to have a partner help with these tests.


1. Take a seat and have your partner raise the arm of your aching shoulder to the front and overhead as far as possible.
2. Your partner should use one hand to raise your arm and the hand to support your shoulder blade.
The subacromial space ( space where the rotator cuff tendons and shoulder bursa are located becomes smaller when this test is performed. If you feel pain on the shoulder then the test is positive. The pain is probably caused by impingement of the tendons or bursa in that part of the shoulder.

The Test of the Biceps Tendonitis

1. This test should be performed in a seated position. Raise your aching arm to the front.
2. With your arm stretched straight in front of you, turn your palm up.
3. Have your partner push your arm down as you resist.
If you experience pain at the front of the shoulder, then it is likely that the biceps tendonitis is the cause of your pain.
Labrum tear
This tear is comprised of two phases: the apprehension and relocation tests.

The Apprehension Test

1. Lie flat on a raised surface such as a table or a bench.
2. Move your aching arm to the side so that it is perpendicular to your torso.
3. Place your elbow on a ninety-degree angle.
4. Let your partner gradually rotate your arm as your hand moves towards your ear. Your partner should push as far as possible. You should try and keep your elbow at a ninety-degree angle the entire time.
If you are afraid of shoulder movement beyond the joint, then this test is positive for a likely labrum tear.

The Relocation Test

You might feel that your shoulder is unsteady or wants to move out of place or relocate particularly when your shoulder is in a severe external rotation. If you are experiencing this, allow your partner to gently press the front of your shoulder to relocate the joint.
If you experience a reduced relocation feeling and your shoulder feels more stable, this test will certainly be considered positive for a labrum tear.
Acromial-clavicular (AC) joint separation
The test for acromial-clavicular joint separation is known as the AC joint compression test. It is at this joint that the shoulder blade (scapula) and the collarbone (clavicle) connect.
Sit down and have your partner place a hand at the front of the shoulder joint and the other at the back.
Have your partner firmly press the front and the back of your shoulder to compress the acromial-clavicular.
You will feel pain at the joint during compression if you have a joint separation. Additionally, if your arm is in pain when you raise it upward or while you are sleeping, then it is probably a sign of acromial-clavicular joint separation.

Rotator Cuff Tear Test

1. In a sitting position, raise your aching arm to the side and parallel to the floor.
2. With your arm relaxed, let your partner drop your arm.
If your arm drops involuntarily and you are unable to maintain the parallel position then you might have a rotator cuff tear. Some may compensate for the rotator cuff tear by raising the scapula towards the ear. Be careful as you perform this test.


Source: Lee County Medical Center

The Supraspinatus Tear Test

The empty glass test is used to investigate the condition of your supraspinatus. The supraspinatus is one of the four rotator cuff muscles. This muscle is located in the upper part of the shoulder joint and is involved when you raise your arm.
1. In a standing or sitting position, lift your arm forward and to the side about thirty to forty-five degrees.
2. Move your palm to face the floor as if emptying a glass.
3. Your partner should gently push your arm down.
If you cannot keep your arm at this position because of pain or weakness, then you have a supraspinatus tear.

The Frozen Shoulder

This test is also known as the adhesive capsulitis. It happens gradually over time and can limit the functionality of your arm. The signs of a frozen shoulder are pain and tightness. This makes it hard to scratch your back, reach overhead, and press a dumbbell.
While standing in front of a mirror, have your partner watch the movement of your shoulder. The partner should note the range and quality of motion of the shoulder joint.
Gradually raise both arms in from and overhead. If you are suffering from a frozen shoulder, your arm will not be able to go all the way. Moreover, as your scapula rises towards your ear, you will feel pain.
Lower your arms and gradually lift your arms out to the side. If you can only lift your arms to a point parallel to the floor or feel pain, then you have a frozen shoulder.
Finally, with both arms at the side and the elbows flexed at ninety degrees, externally rotate your arms outward. The arm that can’t do this is an indication of a frozen shoulder.
These tests will help you in finding out the specific injury that you are suffering from. Additionally, you should make an effort in strengthening your shoulders through training.

Author’s Bio

I am the “Fitness Crab”, a Toronto-based fitness coach and yoga instructor. I’ve been helping my clients improve their health and set up their home gyms for over a decade. I teach people how to achieve perfect form with bodyweight exercise as well as machines like rowers and climbers from. To contact me, please click here.

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