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

Xiaofeng Jia, Jong Hun Ji, Vinodhkumar Pannirselvam, Steve A. Petersen, Edward G. McFarland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)813-818
Number of pages6
JournalClinical orthopaedics and related research
Volume469
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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