Shoulder Assessment

Shoulder Assessment

An online course for physical therapists / physiotherapists


This course starts with a review of the principles of shoulder examination.  Following this, there is a review of the evidence for orthopaedic special tests of the shoulder and explore when it is appropriate to use them.  Next, the course covers shoulder pain and the importance of recognising the differences between acute and chronic pain, and the implications for assessment and management of the patient.  Finally outcome measures and diagnostic imaging complete the assessment puzzle.


Assessment of the shoulder requires a thorough systematic examination to develop a hypothesis that informs our treatment planning. It is only through a complete and systematic assessment that good clinical reasoning and accurate differential diagnosis can take place. A good working hypothesis depends on knowledge of functional anatomy, an accurate patient history, diligent observation and a thorough examination. Findings from this assessment will guide appropriate management interventions. We also need to be able to recognise any red flags for potential serious conditions that may need onward referral.


  • Section 1: Shoulder assessment
  • Section 2: Orthopaedic Special Tests
  • Section 3: Pain – what do we need to know?
  • Section 4: Outcome Measures
  • Section 5: Diagnostic Imaging
  • Section 6: Final Tasks