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Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2011 Mar;469(3):813-8. doi: 10.1007/s11999-010-1590-3. Epub 2010 Sep 28.

Does a positive neer impingement sign reflect rotator cuff contact with the acromion?

Author information

  • 1Division of Shoulder Surgery, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

One possible cause of shoulder pain is rotator cuff contact with the superior glenoid (cuff-glenoid contact) with the arm in flexion, as occurs during a Neer impingement sign. It has been assumed that the pain with a Neer impingement sign on physical examination of the shoulder was secondary to the rotator cuff making contact with the anterior and lateral acromion.

QUESTIONS/PURPOSES:

We determined if the arm position where pain occurs with a Neer impingement sign would correlate with the position where the rotator cuff made contact with the superior glenoid, as determined by arthroscopic evaluation.

PATIENTS AND METHODS:

We prospectively studied 398 consecutive patients with a positive Neer impingement sign during office examination and used a handheld goniometer to measure (in degrees of flexion) the arm position in which impingement pain occurred. During subsequent arthroscopy, the arm was moved into a similar position, and we measured the arm's position in flexion at the point the rotator cuff made contact with the superior glenoid using a handheld goniometer. We compared the degrees of flexion at which pain occurred preoperatively and at which there was cuff-glenoid contact.

RESULTS:

Among the 398 patients, 302 (76%) had arthroscopically documented cuff-glenoid contact, whereas 96 did not. For the 302 patients with a positive Neer sign preoperatively and with arthroscopically documented cuff-glenoid contact, the average preoperative impingement pain position was 120.1°±26.7°, similar to that of the average intraoperative cuff-glenoid contact position of 120.6°±14.7°.

CONCLUSIONS:

Our data suggest pain associated with a positive Neer sign more often relates to contact of the rotator cuff with the superior glenoid than to contact between the rotator cuff and acromion.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:

Level II, prognostic study. See Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

PMID:
20878281
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3032859
Free PMC Article
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