The Empty Can Test (aka Jobe’s Test) is used to determine a shoulder impingement or a supraspinatus tear. The test can yield both false positives & false negatives, so use it in combination with other diagnostic tools.

The patient can sit or stand for the empty can test. The patient’s arm should be elevated to 90 degrees in the scapular plane (about 45 degrees), with the elbow extended, full internal rotation, and pronation of the forearm. Then you push down on the arm. A positive sign is pain and/or the patient can’t hold their arm up.

The test can also be positive for other shoulder issues including shoulder bursitis, tendonitis, or even a labral tear.

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