Conflict of interest: none declared. Financial support: none declared.
Examination of the active and passive range of motion of the shoulder joint is of major importance when diagnosing shoulder disorders.
Abduction and external exorotation movements of the shoulder joint can be judged reliably. Limitations in the range of abduction indicate subacromial pathology and limitations in the range of external exorotation indicate glenohumeral pathology. Other shoulder joint movement tests have only low inter-rater reliability.
Palpation of the shoulder serves no useful purpose if inspection of the joint and examination of the active range of motion reveal no abnormal signs.
The value of physical examination tests that identify impingement or stability of the shoulder joint has not been reliably demonstrated.