Drop Arm Test

Orthopedic Exam / Special Tests for Physical Therapy: SHOULDER

Drop Arm Test:

Rotator Cuff:

In anatomy, the rotator cuff is a group of muscles and their tendons that act to stabilize the shoulder. The four muscles of the rotator cuff are the supraspinatus muscle, the infraspinatus muscle, teres minor muscle, and the subscapularis muscle.The rotator cuff muscles are important in shoulder movements and in maintaining glenohumeral joint  stability.The rotator cuff muscles arise from the scapula and connect to the head of the humerus, forming a cuff at the shoulder joint.


The supraspinatus runs from the supraspinatous fossa superior of the scapula  to the greater tubercle of the humerus. It is one of the four rotator cuff muscles and also abducts the arm at the shoulder. The
supraspinatus muscle tendon passes laterally beneath the cover of the acromion. This tendon inserts into the superior facet of the greater tubercle of the humerus.

Special Test: Drop Arm Test:


  • To test for the integrity of the rotator cuff, especially the supraspinatus muscle and tendon.

Video Demo Instructions, Procedure, Positive Test:

Special Test: Drop Arm Test: Video Demo (Procedure below)

Special Test: Drop Arm Test: PROCEDURE:

• Patient is seated or standing
• Patient actively abducts their humerus to 90° and keeps their arm in this position
• Patient slowly and smoothly adducts their arm back

Special Test: Drop Arm Test: POSITIVE SIGN:

  • Pain or the patient cannot slowly and smoothly adduct their arm back to their side.

Drop Arm Test Sensitivity Specificity Likelihood:

drop arm test likelihood sensitivity specifity