Empty can test

Last revised by Arlene Campos on 30 Jan 2024

The empty can test is a clinical test used to test the integrity of the supraspinatus tendon. In this test, the patient is tested at 90° elevation in the scapular plane and full internal rotation (empty can). The patient resists downward pressure exerted by the examiner at the patient's elbow or wrist.

The test is considered positive if there is weakness, pain or both during resistance. A positive test could imply supraspinatus tendon or muscle injury/tears, or other pathology (e.g. suprascapular nerve entrapment).

History and etymology

It was originally described by Jobe and Moynes to test the integrity of the supraspinatus tendon. 

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