The posterior apprehension test is used to assess for posterior shoulder instability or dislocation.

Performing the Test

  1. The patient is placed in the supine position with their affected shoulder over the edge of the bed or table
  2. Their arm is then passively flexed to 90°, and maximally internally rotated with elbow flexed to 90°
  3. With one hand on the elbow and another stabilizing the scapula, posterior stress is applied to the shoulder
  4. The test is considered positive if the patient feels apprehension


  1. Essential Evidence Plus. 2011. Accessed February 2011.
  2. Magee D. Orthopedic Physical Assessment. 1st ed. Philadelphia:Saunders; 1986.
  3. Hurley K. OSCE and Clinical Skills Handbook. Halifax: Elsevier Canada; 2005.