Posterior shoulder laxity in asymptomatic athletes

Edward G. McFarland, Gary Campbell, Jason McDowell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We evaluated the frequency of posterior subluxations on physical examination of athletes who had no symptoms of shoulder injuries and correlated the findings with other measures of joint laxity. During routine sports physical examinations, 356 shoulders in 178 athletes were examined for posterior subluxation and graded as either positive or negative for subluxation. Sulcus signs were performed and graded as I (<1.0 cm), II (1.0 to 1.5 cm), or III (>1.5 cm). Standard hyperlaxity tests of other joints were used to measure general ligamentous laxity. Statistical analysis included the Student's t-test and chi-square analysis (P < 0.05). Overall, 55% of the shoulders could be subluxated posteriorly. More female shoulders (65%) than male shoulders (51%) could be subluxated posteriorly. Ten percent of the athletes had asymmetrical posterior shoulder laxity. Men had statistically significant less inferior translation (sulcus signs of grade I, 49%; grade II, 46%; grade III, 3%) than women (grade I, 36%; grade II, 54%; grade III, 9%). Five percent of the shoulders had posterior subluxation and a grade III sulcus sign. Asymptomatic posterior subluxation present at physical examination may represent normal laxity and may not indicate pathologic instability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)468-471
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


Dive into the research topics of 'Posterior shoulder laxity in asymptomatic athletes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this