Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ


What is an "apprehension sign?" I saw in my medical report that I have a positive apprehension sign. I'm not usually an anxious person so I don't understand why the doctor wrote this in the report.


The Apprehension Test is used to look for instability in the shoulder. The test is performed on patients who have injured or even dislocated the shoulder. The test is done by moving the patient's arm out to the side and rotating the arm (and shoulder) outward into external rotation. This is the position you would use to throw a ball.

An apprehension test is positive if the patient looks alarmed or concerned. The patient may ask the doctor or therapist to stop the test. Many patients say it feels like the shoulder is going to dislocate again. In fact, if the test is done too quickly the shoulder can dislocate.

Yong Girl Rhee, MD, et al. Glenohumeral Arthropathy after Arthroscopic Anterior Shoulder Stabilization. In Arthroscopy. April 2004. Vol. 20. No. 4. Pp. 402-406.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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