Drop Sign

Drop Sign is used to test the integrity of the supraspinatus muscle of the rotator cuff of the…
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 Drop Sign

What is Drop Sign?

  • Drop Sign is used to test the integrity of the supraspinatus muscle of the rotator cuff of the shoulder.

How it's Performed?

  • The patient is seated with his or her back to the examiner.
  • The affected arm is held at 90 degrees of elevation in the scapular plane and at almost full external rotation with the elbow flexed at 90 degrees.
  • The patient is asked to maintain this position actively as the examiner releases the wrist while supporting the elbow, which is mainly a function of the infraspinatus

What does a positive Drop Sign mean?

The Drop Sign is positive when:

  • Weakness in maintaining the position of the arm , with or without pain, or sudden dropping of the arm suggests a rotator cuff lesion, most often this is due to a defect in the supraspinatus muscle 

Sensitivity & Specificity

  • Sensitivity: 73 %
  • Specificity: 98 %


  • A positive drop arm test may also have neurologic causes, such as damage to the subscapular nerve, so the patient must be thoroughly examined from a neurologic standpoint.
  • In lesions of the supraspinatus muscle as a result of chronic degenerative processes, the drop arm test may be falsely negative due to muscular compensation, especially by the deltoid muscle.


  • Orthobullets
  • Campbel's Operative Orthopaedics 13th Book
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3826176/
  • Clinical Tests for the Musculoskeletal 3rd Ed. Book

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