Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ


What is a positive Hornblower's sign? My husband came back from the doctor's saying this is what is wrong with his shoulder.


The hornblower's sign is the patient's inability to outwardly rotate the shoulder. This is the position a hornblower would hold his or her arm to get the horn to the lips. It's a sign that one of the muscles to the shoulder (the teres minor) is torn.

The hornblower's test is a very sensitive test. If it's positive, then the surgeon knows the teres minor cannot be repaired with a standard operation. A tendon transfer may be needed.

A long rehab program is needed after tendon transfer. Muscle reeducation is required for a good result. If the patient is unable to cooperate or stick with it long enough, then nonoperative treatment may be the best choice.

A physical therapist will work with your husband to gain control of his symptoms. Pain, loss of motion, and decreased function are common problems. Once the pain is under control, then a strengthening program can begin. David M. Dines, MD, et al. Irreparable Rotator Cuff Tears: What to Do and When to Do It; The Surgeon's Dilemma. In The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. October 2006. Vol. 88-A. No. 10. Pp. 2294-2302.

*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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